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.

Egyptian Amazons

Famous(or infamous depending on who you ask) the Amazons were described as a society of fierce warrior women who lived apart from men. They fought the most famous heroes of Greek mythology and captured the imagination of writers both ancient and modern.

The Amazons have always interested me, especially after stumbling upon the work of author Adrienne Mayor and her book simply titled “The Amazons”. In the book she dives into the histories of ancient nomads from the Steppes who may have inspired ancient authors as well as the myriad of Amazon legends themselves.

There are many misconceptions regarding the Amazons, one of the biggest being that they were only to be found in the Greek world. These fascinating heroines were also to be found in tales among the Persians, Romans,Syrians, Egyptians, and other ancient cultures. As someone who primarily identifies their religious beliefs as Kemetic the stories based in Egypt are of particular interest to me.

One myth tells of the Syrian Amazon Queen Serpot (“Blue Lotus”) who fought against the Egyptian Prince Pedikhons, the conflict eventually ending in single combat between the two rulers. However the two were evenly matched and ended up joining forces.

Another tale centers around Amazonian Queen Myrina who was famous for conquering the city of Cyrenê. After conflict with the famous Heracles, Queen Myrina found herself traveling through Egypt. This was far back in mythic times when the god Heru (Horus) was directly ruling the country as Pharaoh. Queen Myrina allied with the god and went on to conquer Libya and portions of Turkey.

While we cannot be for sure on the birthplace of the Amazons, many ancient writers place it in North Africa particularly around Lake Tritonis (southern Tunisia today). The primary source of information regarding the “Libyan Amazons” seems to come from Greek historian Diodorus Siculus and places a great deal of importance upon the worship of a goddess known as Tannit among them.

Tannit was known to the Egyptians as Nit (Neith), Tanit to the Phoenicians and later identified as Athena to the Greeks (by Herodotus). The name Tannit was said to mean Ta-Nit, which translates as “the Land of Nit“, referring to North Africa as a whole. Nit’s major cult center amongst the Egyptians was the city of Tanis.

Now that I’ve established a little bit of a background and connection here it’s time to discuss the Amazons and modern Kemetics. Are these mythical warrior women relevant to modern day worshipers and if so, in what way? It’s important to note that the legends we have of Amazons in Egypt come primarily from Greek sources and not Egyptian. On the other hand, the Tannit-Amazon-Nit connection is a fascinating tidbit that could imply and older association. 

The story of Queen Myrina is interesting because it places her life and rule rule during the earliest days of Egyptian mythical history, a time when gods and mortals walked side by side in the flesh.

I still have a lot to ponder and research but I will definitely be covering more of this subject in the future.

Kemetic Body Positivity: Beautiful Bellies

Today’s self love reminder: Ancient Egyptian’s thought rolls were lovely and painstakingly drew and carved them.

In some ancient cultures being heavier was a symbol of power because it meant you could afford to eat.

Egypt was a little unusual in that regard. Being well fed was definitely a status symbol for higher class people. The pharaoh Akhenaten had a very large stomach and he flaunted it as a sign of the prosperity his reign would bring to Egypt. We know from physical remains that a large number of pharaohs were quite heavy.

That being said, the relative calm and predictable nature of the Nile’s flood meant that agriculture was fairly easy compared to what other cultures had to go through. We even have surviving art that shows farmers just chucking seeds behind them in a field.

Droughts and famine did happen and could be severe but they were the exception rather than the rule. Egyptians ate a diet mostly consisting of bread, beer, root vegetables, fish and fruit. They loved to drink and party and ate lots of red meat and waterfowl during festivals. They also made junk food sweetened with honey. Pharaohs ate lots of candy.

Because food and drink was plentiful compared to other societies you didn’t have to be upper class to eat well. We actually have art of heavyset peasants.

It’s fascinating because they would be so confused by our culture’s obsession with thinness. To them, rolls and plump stomachs were good things. There’s a reason that in hymns to Hapi He’s referred to as “fattening the land of Egypt” and that “every belly is made glad”.

Body Positivity And The Gods

We’ve probably all heard the expression “So-and-so has the body of a god”. But with so many traditions and pantheons full of deities what does that mean and why does it matter? This is my take, one that has helped bring me comfort in the face of an increasingly harsh, shallow society.

Most people in the Western World are familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. At least in terms of Their names and how They are depicted. Male gods shown with muscled frames, defined abs and legs that appear to be carved from steel. Goddesses have a bit more body diversity but still tend to conform to a certain “ideal” type.

This is what most people have in mind when they think about what gods “look like”. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a slam or argument against any particular depiction of deity but rather an appeal to explore others.

Modern artwork showing deities is often characterized by this concept that all gods are muscle bound and all goddesses are slender with big breasts and tiny waists. I remember coming across a lovely work of photo art from a modern Hellenic temple showing the smith god Hephaestus as a slightly heavyset man. The comments on the work were extremely disheartening. “Gods are supposed to look perfect!” “He wouldn’t be able to do His job like that!”

One commenter explained in detail that he was unable to connect with deities not depicted as “physically perfect”. I remember being completely taken aback not only by people’s complete disregard for the fact that the model was an actual human being but also the association between a specific body type and “perfect”. Perfect by who’s terms? Are you saying that despite His noticeably strong muscles He wouldn’t be able to perform His work because His stomach isn’t flat? Absolute absurdity.

“Physical perfection” is a demonstrably artificial concept anyone. Perfect for what? A sprinter isn’t built like a football player, a strongman doesn’t have the body of a swimmer, etc. Outside of our shallow, image obsessed media it has no actual definition. We have been collectively trained to strive for a “perfection” that simply doesn’t exist so that companies can sell more products.

Cultures across the world have carved, drawn and imagined their gods in a wide variety of different ways. The Egyptian god Hapi is shown with a large chest and big belly, representing His associations with abundance.

Another god Bes, (also Egyptian) is envisioned as short and plump. Despite these features (which would be labeled as “flaws” by our modern society) Bes was beloved in ancient times an in the modern day by Kemetics.

Fertility and mother goddesses the world over are given the image of a curved woman with a large, round body emphasizing Their creative powers. These ample goddesses are beloved and venerated in nearly every tradition. Their images adorn jewelry, altars, artwork and books.

Another much loved god Who doesn’t match the image of a deity so many have in their head is Hotei, Japanese (as well as Chinese) god of happiness and contentment. His image can be found not only in temples but also outside of bars and restaurants, of which He is considered the patron god.

Yet another of the “Seven Lucky Gods” of Japan can be included here. Ebisu, patron god of fishermen, luck and wealth. Ebisu is described as a “full-figured” man dressed as a fisherman. To this day He plays an important role in Japanese culture, appearing in many mediums.

One of the most popularly worshiped Hindu gods of all time is Ganesh or Ganesha. Considered by some branches of the Hindu faith to be the Supreme Being, Ganesha is shown in images as an elephant headed man, sometimes with multiple arms and a large protruding stomach. Depending on the tradition this can represent everything from satisfaction to the infinite number of worlds existing within Him.

These aren’t the only body types that are left out when we view gods through the lense of modern ideas of “physical perfection”. As I don’t have infinite room here however I’ll have to discuss them next time!

What does all of this mean thing? It means that the images we create of our gods reflects ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with buff gods but there is also nothing wrong with heavyset or even fat ones either. People aren’t meant to look alike or have the same builds and neither are our gods.

Netjeri: The Divine Spirits

We just love “Net” words in Kemeticism.


For the average ancient Egyptian the world was filled with gods and spirits. Spiritual entities and creatures lived alongside the physical world and could be interacted with.

These creatures were often considered spiritual manifestations of physical phenomenon with medical treatments combining medicine with prayers and rituals aimed at influencing these creatures.

Amulets were worn to encourage protection of the person by the gods but also by these spirits. Or to keep them away entirely. Some of these beings are identified as serving specific deities while others do not.

Accounts of the ancient Egyptian underworld also populate it with a vast array of different spirit beings and creatures. While they seem to be less popular subjects in modern media Egyptian religion and mythology is not far behind that of the Greeks in terms of exotic, amazing mythological beings.

Such spirits include Sha beasts, Bennu birds (Phoenixes), griffins, sphinxes, serpopards, stas and more. The Sha is a sleek canine with large, square ears, a forked tail and long snout.

The Bennu is a heronlike bird with connections to the Phoenix myth. Serpopards are beings with the body of a leopard and the long neck and head of a snake. Finally, Stas are described as having the head and neck of an asp (a venomous snake) and a large, catlike body.

So we know these spirits were considered important in ancient times but what about nowadays? Working with various spiritual entities is common in many religious and/or spiritual traditions. In the Kemetic Orthodox tradition the name netjeri is given to any and all nonhuman, non god spirits.

Because the ancient Egyptians would often incorporate aspects of other religions into their own faith many modern Kemetics have no issue calling upon spirits from other cultures (angels and fae are common examples) in addition to traditional Kemetic spirits.

Certain gods such as Sekhmet (though certainly not limited to Her) are known to have spirits who serve as emissaries. These emissaries are often referred to as Arrows or as members of a deity’s retinue. It’s highly likely that all Netjeru have these emissaries in Their service.

All Jackal’s Eve: A Moomas time myth for Kids (And the young at heart)

(Quick note: I didn’t create All Jackal’s Eve, it’s a fun tradition celebrated by some Kemetic families the day before Moomas. I was however inspired to write this as a contribution to the stories and celebrations!)

Every year on the night before Moomas Yinepu (Anubis) and Wepwawet celebrate the anniversary of the Celestial Cow by visiting Kemetic families all over the world. They hitch a golden sledge up to a team of living golden jackals and load it up with gifts and blessings for all those who did their best to live within Ma’at.

There are seven jackals, with one at the front and the rest side by side. Merry little oil lamps🪔 light Their way through the darkness as They sail across Nut’s starry body.

All the while our Akhu celebrate with feasting and parties, pointing the way towards our homes to the tireless golden jackals. If you see twinkling lights in the sky this night you just might be seeing the celebration as our ancestors smile down on us.

Children leave snacks out as offerings to the jackal gods and letters to be read. Yinepu and Wepwawet visit every home and leave presents under Moomas trees and in stockings. The trees represent the sacred evergreens imported into Egypt in ancient times and the bright lights strung on them represent our akhu shining as stars up above.

©Terra Akhert 2019

In Defense of Syncretism

Throughout my time being active in the various pagan communities online I’ve been noticing an odd and frankly puzzling trend. I’m talking about the exhausting tendency of many modern pagans to dismiss syncretism out of hand. This despite the fact that that many such syncretisms have historical precedence.

As a Kemetic I’ve found myself more and more intrigued by the historical associations made by the ancient Greeks between their gods and those of the Egyptians during the Ptolemaic Period. For example, the Greeks believed that the Egyptian god Amun was the same as their god Zeus. They also associated Bast with Artemis, Min with Pan, Hethert with Aphrodite and so on. Frankly the Greeks had a long history of doing this kind of thing from what I’ve seen.

There were also historical instances of people believing many of the Greek and Roman gods to be one and the same. Whether people believed certain deities to be the same or different has always varied by time period and individual. Obviously a person is under no obligation to practice any form of syncretism but shooting down someone who does is disrespectful and shortsighted.

I remember many years ago when I was still new to Paganism I stumbled upon a post someone wrote concerning the identification of Artemis and Bast. The article was so full of righteous indignation that it will probably stick in my mind for years more to come. The author bemoaned “inexperienced new pagans” “confusing these goddesses together”. They ranted about how frustrated they were and that they “knew” the two were different.

I remember being struck by the strange defensiveness of the post. Surely a person confident in their relationship with a deity would not feel so threatened by someone else’s beliefs? Especially since those beliefs are also rooted in ancient practices?

The truth is that beliefs regarding the nature of the gods varied extensively throughout historical eras and geographical locations. We need to remember to be open minded when coming into contact with pagans whose beliefs and ideas are different from ours. Instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that the other person is wrong and/or ignorant why don’t we instead try to see their point of view?

I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about empathizing with people who warp pagan beliefs to justify their bigotry and hate. Screw those people. They should never be welcome in these communities.

Now to the question of what I believe regarding syncretism:

I do believe in some syncretism within my personal practice. I’ve found myself increasingly interested in the fusion of the Greek, Roman and Egyptian pantheons mentioned at the beginning of the post.

I do believe some Greek and Roman gods are the same, though this statement does not extend to all of the gods as there are definitely deities unique to one pantheon or another (and some adapted from other pantheons altogether)! As far as the Egyptian gods go: They have a long history of merging together to create composite or synced gods while also preserving the individuality of the deities involved. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for this to be extended to Their experiences with different pantheons. We even have examples of this happening in the form of Hermanubis, a composite Hermes-Anubis deity.

My point with this article is not to demand every polytheist immediately adopt syncretistic beliefs. Your beliefs are your own. Instead I’m pointing out that these beliefs are not new and every bit as valid to those who hold them.

©Terra Akhert 2019

 

Musings on Loki

This is something I wrote some time ago but it continues to be true in my experience and I wanted to share it with others. As I’ve stated on multiple occasions I have a deeply devotional but also sometimes chaotic relationship with the god Loki.

Loki can be a very hard god but He is so worth it. He is an individual so sometimes He is all smiles and laughter. Other times He is deep and thoughtful. Sometimes, He is Worldbreaker in all His terribleness. He frightens us, shaking the ground under our feet and tearing at the illusions we have built up about ourselves. He smiles as He rips apart our walls, not because he is sadistic or evil but because He genuinely cares about us and He knows it is for the best. After the deed is done we shake with relief because we have seen divine fury strike out around us, rending and gutting our self doubt. We have seen the fires of Muspelheim reach out to devour that which we had for so long devour our very minds. Memories, doubts about ourselves, irrational fears, they all melt and twist in FlameHair’s fire, till we rise out the other side, stronger and more sure of ourselves.

Loki can be a hard god because He points out our flaws, not to be mean but to show us that no one is perfect. We must work on ourselves but we must not be deluded into thinking we will ever reach some arbitrary benchmark of perfection. Loki wants us to grow as people but He also wants us to love ourselves how we are because if we are constantly waiting until we are good enough to love then we will never love ourselves. We are already good enough to love and loved all the more because we try.

This is why Loki can be a hard god, He genuinely cares about us as individuals.

©Terra Akhert 2019

Harm None?

In my time on the Pagan part of the Internet I’ve seen plenty of posts about whether or not you have to be vegan in order to be Wiccan, or whether or not it’s OK to euthanize a critically injured animal. I’ve even seen people go as far as to say non vegans practicing Wicca aren’t actually Wiccans at all. What it basically all boils down to is the true meaning of “harm none”. It’s actually impossible to go through your life without causing any harm.

You harm microbes when you wash your hands and when you clean. You squash ants when you walk. If you eat meat then an animal had to die. If you are a vegan then a plant in many causes had to die. They are living things as well. Vegetables and other crops must be planted, the equipment used for this kills mice and bugs who live in the fields. Bugs hit car windshields, animals accidentally hit by cars and so on and so on.

My point isn’t to be depressed or upset by this harm. Animals can’t go through their life without harming others either, it’s just the world we live in. The Rede is very important but it’s not the be-all end-all. It’s not our version of the 10 Commandments.

It is extremely good advice, something to strive for in our lives. Do not however expect perfection, do your best to be a good person and to minimize the harm you cause but realize that you will cause harm to someone or something just in the course of living. This doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Wiccan. This makes you human. The world isn’t black-and-white, it’s filled with shades of gray.

I remember a couple years ago a person had started a thread in a Wiccan group I was a part of on social media. Essentially the woman was interested in taxidermy and crafting jewelry out of bone, claws and other animal parts, all humanely sourced from natural deaths. Inevitably someone started a second thread about this talking about how shocking and “unWiccan” this was. How “disgusting” this person must be and how they are wannabes for “enabling this behavior” and that they should “go read some Wiccan books”.

To be quite blunt? It struck a very raw nerve with me.

Honestly this narrow mindedness and absolute refusal to acknowledge the natural world (which includes death) while proclaiming to honor it is why other Pagans bash us Wiccans. People of different traditions have always used animal parts in jewelry and sacred ritual, our god (The Horned God) is even a hunter! Heck, The Goddess is often portrayed as one too.

By judging others for engaging in practices that are not causing undue suffering and are in accordance with their own traditions people like that are the ones who aren’t acting Wiccan. Other disrespectful and insulting comments on threads such as this one? How about “Read some Wiccan books”? Which ones? Just the ones that agree with your thinking or any of the hundreds published by different authors with different opinions?

What of people whose ancestors are Native American and  have used animal products in jewelry and sacred rituals since the beginning of their people? I am in no way comparing any form of Wicca to any Native tradition but that kind of Puritanism towards other belief systems makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.

Yours, Not Theirs

I have always been very interested in religion and spirituality. When I was just a kid I even had a little girl’s bible that I read cover to cover. As I grew up I started asking questions and exploring my beliefs. I don’t remember exactly when I discovered Wicca but I devoured everything I could find on it. I also began studying comparative religion. The rest is basically history.

I consider myself Wiccan though I take inspiration from many sources. These include but aren’t limited to New Orleans Style Voodoo, Rokkatru and some Christian beliefs. I also call myself a witch. My path puts an emphasis on the Faerie Realm.

I believe in one all powerful source Whom I call God. To me God has a masculine side (The Horned God) and a feminine side (The Triple Goddess), like two sides of one coin. I see all the gods and goddesses as being manifestations/aspects of Them while also being individuals at the same time. It’s like shining a light through a prism. It’s all one light but it shines through as a rainbow of different colors. I try to live each day being the best version of myself. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. I like to do practical things to honor nature like putting up bird feeders, growing plants, etc.

I celebrate the phases of the moon as to me they represent the phases of The Triple Goddess and of the changing cycles of the earth. In a similar way I celebrate the Solstices as different points along the lifecycle of The Horned God. I’m very much a “Circle Of Life” type of person.

To me magick has to do with the flow of the universe. Some of this energy comes from within us, some from all around the universe and some from the gods. Magick is basically working with the rhythms of the universe to accomplish changes. It’s every bit as natural as as, the force of gravity.

This is my Wicca, but it may not be yours. Our beliefs and practices are heavily affected by our experiences and perceptions of the world around us. That’s the reason why there is no “One Size Fits All” situation here. Don’t through rules and traditions headlong out the window for no reason but don’t be afraid of your practice, your beliefs looking different from the person next to you. Yours isn’t their’s.