My Take On ChristoPaganism

ChristoPaganism is a word sometimes used to describe the blending of Christian and Pagan beliefs. I myself blend the two in my understanding of God. Get comfortable because this is going to be a long one.

It occurs to me that any conversation about God is going to run into problems unless we explain exactly what we mean. God has gotten a bad rep because of some of the truly atrocious things done by organized religions. So many have been taught to believe that God is an angry, vengeful old man with a beard Who chooses favorites and punishes those He doesn’t like. The thing is though, this could not possibly be further from the truth.

Since time immemorial mankind has looked to the heavens and wondered. Wondered why we are here, how did this world come to exist and how we came to live upon it. In answer to these questions humans have invariably come to a consensus, there is some higher power at work. A conscious intelligence that creates, maintains and destroys. 

This higher power has been conceived of as spirits, a plethora of deities or one deity depending on the individual belief system yet one thing remains almost universally consistent: humanity recognizes a Creator and feels the need to know said Creator. Religion came to exist out of this need, the word describes a system of beliefs and practices invented by humans in order to honor and seek the higher power.

Throughout time people have adapted their beliefs based on personal experiences, contact with the beliefs of others, progression of thought and direct experience with the Divine. It was only with more recent thought that religion and spirituality were considered rigid, the ancient peoples blended whatever beliefs made sense to them with no fear that their Creator would punish them for it.

Even among the early Christians there was blending of beliefs and practices. The Bible even seems to suggest the existence of multiple gods. Genesis 1:26 states: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”(KJV).  Jesus Himself spoke out against the rigid and intolerant views of religious authorities of the time. Furthermore the prophet Micah proclaimed a time when all people would be at peace, worshiping their gods in a brilliant example of religious freedom. “Micah 4:3-5 “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hat spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” (KJV)

So too did the Pagans show tolerance and respect to the early Christians: “Acts 28:30-31 “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Also, according to the Bible many early Christians taught that you didn’t need to be a Christian in order to enter Heaven: “Romans 2:14-16: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” In other words, The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus taught His disciples to be good people and if you are a good person (regardless of your religious beliefs) you will go to Heaven. Lastly the Bible warns that we should take care not to be offensive to other religions but to treat them with respect: “1 Corinthians 10:31-32 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, orwhatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:”.

Not only this but the Roman governor Pilate’s own wife (who in later tradition is named Claudia Procula) was said to receive a dream from her gods that Jesus was a good man.  If Jesus and the Pagans were so at odds then why this acceptance of Jesus on the part of Pagan deities? The maligned but simple answer seems to be that there is no contention between Christianity and Paganism other than what later religious leaders with an axe to grind created.

God isn’t purely masculine either. Remember, Genesis told us that God made us male and female in God’s image. Hosea 13:8 compares God to a mother bear: “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”. Deuteronomy 32:18 refers to God “giving birth” and Isaiah 49:15 has God asking: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” In Isaiah 42:14 God says: ““For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant”. Again in Isaiah 66:13 God proclaims: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem”.

These are but a handful of the occasions in which God is described as feminine in the Bible. Other times God is considered masculine. In the Bible John explains that God is a spiritual being and does not literally possess gender. Instead, God has the ability to appear to us as masculine or feminine (or genderless) depending on what will bring us comfort and understanding.

Throughout history deities have been male, female or any combination of gender or sex. That this concept continued into early Christian belief is a testament to the fact that Christianity was inspired in large part by other spiritualities. This is not a criticism of the belief but rather evidence of a living, thriving spirituality that is capable of growing over time. Without some growth and change it would become stagnant and lifeless.

The Bible is not an ineffable source, we know as a historical fact that it was written by human beings over a long period of time. However it is useful as are all spiritual writings because it helps us to understand the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of the people who wrote it. When we look to the world today we see violence, cruelty and death. In the face of this it can be difficult to see the good in the world. I would argue though that there is still more good than bad. Every single day new advances in medicine allow people to live longer and healthier lives. Every moment of every day there are good people engaging in acts of kindness and new love blossoming upon the earth. We are so used to these things that we tune them out, only paying attention to the ills of this world. I am in no way attempting to make light of the problems facing our planet but instead to point out that we are capable of greatness and goodness if we set our minds to it. God is love, pure and simple. When you read the Bible or any other account of our Creator read it through the lens of love. If it makes our God out to be some cruel and manipulative being then you can be assured what you are reading is purely of human origin. Only humans are capable of such mindless cruelty.

So countless deities or one almighty God, which is it? That ultimately depends on your own personal beliefs. I have been taught through my own experiences that there is one God and that all of the gods and goddesses throughout the world are aspects of this God while also being individual personalities. This belief is known as Monolatry and will be covered in detail later on this book. Your mileage however will vary and it is not my place to tell you what to believe. I can only hope that this book provides helpful guidance and validation for all of us who walk a blended path. May God bless you.

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Christian Witchcraft 

Many (though not all) of us who practice some from of Christian Wicca or Christian Paganism also practice witchcraft. There is no single definition of witchcraft but in modern spiritual circles a witch is typically seen as a person who works with natural spiritual energies to manifest change in their physical reality. This can be as simple as lighting a pink candle with the intention to promote self love and acceptance or as complex as a long and elaborate ritual designed to protect one’s home. Witchcraft is ancient and has been practiced in nearly all societies before and alongside religion.

Witchcraft can be secular or religious, It is entirely dependent upon the practitioner. Christian Wiccans often practice Christian Witchcraft, essentially witchcraft performed within a Christian inspired framework. Some people question how Christian witchcraft can be practiced since the Bible forbids any form of witchcraft. Or does it?

If you are at all familiar with the argument against Christian Witchcraft then you’ve likely read the passage from Exodus (22:18) that reads: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Now, there’s some serious debate about the translation here with some suggesting the word is actually “poisoner” and not witch. Others claim that it is truly the word witch in this translation. Personally I am of the stance that it doesn’t matter either way. Here me out for just a moment. Over the course of history words change their meaning. What a witch was to people in biblical times is most definitely not what the word witchcraft means to modern witches. 

The people of those times had every reason to be wary of those who practiced magic “tricks”, consorted with malicious spirits and used their knowledge of the natural world to inflict suffering upon people. While it’s true that the Bible warns against the use of such “witchcraft” we must remember two things. First, we have already covered how the Bible was written by humans who lived in a certain point in history and in a certain culture. Due to this it is only rational that their writing be influenced by the society they lived in. Secondly, Jesus was quite explicit in saying that He came to Earth to form a new covenant between mankind and God. In the same way the old Jewish laws do not apply to Christians it is reasonable to say that the prohibition against witchcraft no longer applies as long as we practice in the name of God and the highest good. This is more clear in the cases of those Bible verses in Leviticus that condemn witchcraft. These same verses contain the lists of old Jewish laws, laws that Christians are free from having to follow because of Christ. Not only that but if you begin reading these verses condemning “witchcraft” you will notice a common theme, the lack of God in the act. Typically these “magic users” were petty thieves and frauds who preyed on people’s emotions to con them out of their money. There is nothing wrong with using our own innate, God given spiritual power in order to better our lives and to help those around us.

The charge of witch was levied against people In order to discredit their magic by claiming it had an impure source. The same tactic was even used against Jesus as His miracles were labeled “witchcraft” by His enemies. The idea was to at best paint him as a quack and at worst a wicked man who spoke with impure spirits. 

That makes sense until you think about what Source Jesus was drawing His magic from. God is the purest source of magic from which anyone could draw. Modern witchcraft is often used for healing and we see Jesus doing just that in the stories of His life. He made the lame to walk and healed people from various physical and mental disabilities. He spoke with angels, turned water into wine, performed weather magic, provided an otherwise impossible amount of food to feed the hungry, restored a severed body part and more. 

Many early church leaders took great pains to state that what Jesus did were miracles and not magic. However, with our modern understanding of witchcraft as a potential force for good and, if we take the source of our magic to be God then my stance on “miracles vs. magic is this: tomatoes, tamahtos. What it all basically comes down to is this: the “witchcraft” described in the Bible refers to one specific culture’s idea of what witchcraft was at one point in history. That “witchcraft” has nothing to do with the witchcraft practiced by modern witches. 

Obviously as the son of God, Christ’s magic is on a more grand level then ours but we too have the ability to use magic. Think about it, God made us in God’s image, God is a creator. Doesn’t it make sense then that we have some power to create? Some Christian Witches have gone so far as to refer to Jesus as the greatest witch Who ever lived.

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Jesus and Mary

I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to write about both of the famous Marys In the Bible and their relationship with Jesus Christ. I’d like to talk about the Virgin Mary first simply because as His mother She was chronologically first in His life. She has been known by many titles and honorifics including: St. Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, and Mary Mother of God. She is considered by some Christians to be the greatest of the saints and it is said that after Her Son She is exalted by divine grace above all angels and men.

Tradition holds that She is the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne and that She was born in Jerusalem. After taking a vow of virginity at the Temple She was visited by Archangel Gabriel with  the news that She would become the Mother of Jesus. She was then betrothed to Saint Joseph and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was giving birth to John the Baptist. Saint Joseph’s lineage was through the house of David, a wealthy and powerful family.

After giving birth to Jesus, Mary presented Him in the Temple. After receiving a warning of King Herod’s fury from an angel the family escaped to Egypt. While we don’t get much information on the Holy Family during this time There are various traditions regarding what happened. The Church of St Sergius in Cairo is held by many believers to mark the spot where They resided. Coptic Christians believe that the Holy Family visited many places in Egypt including: Al Adaweya (a church in a suburb of Cairo, believed to be the spot where the Holy Family began their journey up the Nile River) and Deir al-Adrah (a sacred place for Coptic Christians, it is built near a cave the Holy Family was thought to have stayed in. Eventually They returned to Jerusalem after learning that Herod had died.

The Bible is essentially silent about Mary’s life during the next few years except for a visit to the Temple in Jerusalem where Jesus learned from the Temple elders. This is another important thing to note. Again according to “The mystical life of Jesus” this is more compelling evidence of the prestige associated with Jesus’s lineage. Jesus was still a child at the time, to not only let Him into the Temple but to allow Him to speak with the Elders illustrates that He was not a poor man.

Mary played an important role in Christ’s first recorded miracle. During a wedding in Cana She explained to Jesus that there was no wine. It was at this point that Jesus magically transformed the water into wine. While this seems like a simple act we must note that having wine at a wedding was seen as a vital part of being a good host. In her book “The mystical life of Jesus Christ” gnostic Christian Sylvia Browne points out that the seemingly simple act of Mary telling Jesus that there was no wine suggests that Christ Himself may very well have been the host. Otherwise why point it out to Him and not whoever was hosting the wedding? This of course brings up the further question: If Jesus was hosting a wedding then who’s wedding was it? I’ll get back to this in a moment but keep it in mind.

Mary, Mother of Jesus was deemed pure enough to bear God’s Son. It’s amazing how often we forget this but it’s not surprising. The early church was extremely patriarchal and did it’s best to minimize or even completely cover up the place of the feminine in spirituality. Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Divine made flesh was born of a woman. That is a deeply powerful revelation because it tells us something profound about women in particular and humanity in general: while God wants us to become the best version of ourselves we are already good enough. Good enough for God to love us and include us in His/Her plans. Countless years of telling women that they are impure in the eyes of God is rendered absolute nonsense.

Mother Mary is loved the world over as an overflowing fount of mercy, compassion and love. Various traditions hold that She appears to humanity to comfort and issue prophecy. For many Christian Wiccans She is not simply a blessed human but a goddess. This may seem odd to some but it actually makes a great deal of sense. From the very beginning of belief humans have instinctively known that the higher power is both a father and a mother. There has always been sacred feminine in balance with sacred masculine.

According to tradition Mother Mary was living just outside of Ephesus, Turkey with John and Mary Magdalene in order to escape persecution. Ephesus has a long history of being especially sacred to the feminine Divine. It was a worship center for the goddess Artemis. It is no Coincidence that this center of goddess worship became an important hub for Mary veneration. The concept of a mother goddess is almost universal in the ancient world I and many others believe that God/dess ordained Mother Mary come into this world as a representative of God as Heavenly Mother.

As amazing and wonderful as Mother Mary is we must now move on to discuss Mary Magdalene. Sometimes She is simply referred to as The Magdalene. The first thing to point out about Mary Magdalene is that there is absolutely no evidence that she was ever a prostitute. This common but inaccurate idea arises from the fact that Mary was an extremely popular name in Biblical times. Mary was occasionally but unfortunately identified with various other women by that same name. It was only later and through careful scholarly work did people realize their error. The Catholic Church issued a public apology but even so the idea stuck.

Mary did however suffer from an unknown affliction which was cured by Jesus. After this She went on to have a special place among the disciples and was one of the few to remain with Jesus during his crucifixion. She was an incredibly intelligent and spirited woman who often traveled with Jesus, even preaching which in those days was not something women did. She was basically a one woman gender barrier smashing work of nature. Mary was also the first person to witness the resurrected Christ.

We don’t know that much about Mary’s early life except that she left her home in Magdala to follow Jesus. We do however know that She enjoyed an intimate relationship with Jesus. In some accounts this relationship included a physical aspect and kissing. It is due to this that some disciples actually expressed jealousy over the relationship. They believed that Jesus loved Mary more than them and even asked Him about it. Their concerns make sense in the light of how women were usually treated in the ancient world as opposed to the high status granted to Mary and Jesus’s other female disciples. Rather than treating them as “simple women” He treated them as equals to His male disciples.

The Magdalene and Mother Mary often traveled together with other female disciples. The fact that they were women allowed them to have special perspective when speaking with other women. Again, having such powerful women amongst Christ’s followers demonstrated the equality between men and women in God’s eyes. By having women remain at the crucifixion of Jesus and witnessing Christ’s resurrection the point is explicitly made that women are just as capable of participating in spiritual matters as men. 

Just as with Mother Mary, The Magdalene is also considered by many Christian Wiccans to be a goddess. She too embodies an aspect of the feminine Divine. Often compared to the goddesses Isis and Venus She is considered by many to have been ordained by God/ess to demonstrate God’s aspect of strong and independent woman to Christians. She also embodies loyalty and dedication, having stayed at Christ’s side no matter what.

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The Trinity 

The trinity is a Christian concept which expresses the Divine as one God in three persons. Essentially it describes God as having three main forms. This is very similar to the Wiccan belief that Goddess is triple (Maiden, Mother and Crone). The three aspects of the Trinity are: The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. Some Wiccan thought holds that God has three forms as well though they are typically not as well defined.

The Father of course represents the masculine and Fatherly side of God. The Son represents God as Jesus Christ, the sacred mixture of human and Divine. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) is the feminine side of God, Goddess Herself. If that surprises you then you’ll be even more surprised to know that the Bible actually bears this out. Jesus used the term “Ruach” to describe the Spirit, Ruach is a feminine Aramaic term that is translated as Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost in English. It wasn’t until the later Romanization of Christianity that Ruach was changed to be masculine.

In an early collection of Gnostic Christian writings known as the Nag Hammadi gospels The Holy Spirit is specifically referred to as female. The Phillip Text reads: “Some said, “Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.” They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. Whenever has a female been impregnated by a female”? Revelation speaks of a woman in heaven “clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and crowned with twelve stars”. In the vision she is described as having bore a son who had taken up the throne of God. Furthermore this child was said to have been attacked by a red dragon but had escaped. Archangel Michael and his Warriors attacked the dragon and drove it from heaven. The dragon tried to revenge itself upon the woman but she was winged and flew from him into the desert. In it’s anger it attacked her other children. These other children were defined by John as those who bear testimony to Jesus (Revelation 12).

Now, Revelation is an extremely confusing book of the Bible and is highly metaphorical. If we take a moment to consider this mother in heaven who gave birth to a king (Jesus), was attacked by a dragon (a metaphor for the devil), was defended by angels and whose other children were Christians we can only arrive at one conclusion: She is The Holy Spirit, Queen of Heaven, The Goddess.  Within a metaphysical context we can view Mother Mary and The Magdalene as embodying two of the three forms of Goddess. The Magdalene represents the Maiden, Mother Mary is of course the Mother and The Holy Spirit is the Crone. 

If all of this sounds overly complicated then just keep in mind that these “aspects” or “phases” simply exist to help us to try and understand our Creator. No one system will ever have “the whole picture” but by putting them together we can benefit from the collective wisdom they provide. This I suspect, is the main reason most people have come to follow this blended path in the first place.

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Monolatry

Earlier in this book I explained that I hold a belief known as monolatry. Monolatry Is a term that was coined to describe eastern religion’s conceptions of God, later it was applied to Egyptian religion (Kemeticism). Essentially it means that you believe in one all powerful being of Whom the other gods are considered aspects/manifestations as well as individuals in Their own right. To give an example of how this works one only needs to look at Hinduism. Hinduism describes an incredibly complex array of religious beliefs and practices that found their start in India. Monolatry is common in Hinduism in the sense that many consider it’s innumerable gods to be aspects of one almighty Creator. These deities still have personalities, likes and dislikes but They are all part of one God.

God is all things to all people so it only makes sense that our Creator would take on different forms in order to interact with us. People are different, we think differently and we process information and experiences differently. Perhaps to one person it makes sense for God to appear to them as Jesus and to another God appears as Anubis, Artemis, Buddha, Krishna or any other deity or deities.

However, because God is the ultimate creative source, God’s personality is infinitely complex. Think of a massive diamond, it is one stone but you’d be hard pressed to count all the facets. God is the diamond as a whole and the facets of the stone are the various gods and goddesses of the world. They all form one whole but still occupy Their own spaces and can be interacted with separately.

Sometimes monolatry is also referred to as modified polytheism or inclusive monotheism. It is often summed up by describing God as “the One and the Many”. There is a Hindu saying which explains Monolatry very well; God is huge, too indescribably complex for us to experience directly. In this way God is like the sun, we can’t look directly at the sun. Instead we experience it through it’s rays. God is the sun and all of the gods are the sun’s rays. 

While it is certainly not the only school of belief in Christian Wicca it is a popular one and the one I hold in my heart.

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