Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Magical Studies: Theology I

Theology is a branch of the philosophical school of metaphysics that concerns itself with the questions pertaining to deity. Most people are familiar with the idea of theological inquiry with in the context of Judeao-Christian thought. It is, however, a subject of serious consideration within the pagan world as well. Many authors have contributed an impressive amount to the body of literature focused upon this topic from various pagan perspectives.

A small list of classical questions considered in any theological discussion are:

  • What is the nature of God/ess(s) (aka the Divine)?
  • What is the relationship between the Divine and the Universe?
  • What is the relationship between the Divine and humanity?
  • What is the meaning of Suffering? Why does Suffering happen?
  • What is the nature of Good?
  • What is the nature of Evil?
Elements of these questions have been presaged by our earlier discussion of Cosmology*. As such, we focus strictly upon the questions above with respect to the Divine. If additional questions are of interest to any of you, my Dear Readers, please post them in the comments. I shall do my best to answer them or provide guidance in determining the answer for yourselves**.

What is the nature of the Divine?
The Divine is the spiritual consciousness of the Universe. It can be experienced as a singular entity or as an entire pantheon of entities. Either experience is valid, as this is revealed via personal gnosis. Those who do not experience the spiritual consciousness of the universe as an entity have their own unique personal gnosis of the Divine. This should not be discredited or scorned, for all personal gnosis is accurate for the facet of the Divine that the individual is aware of.

What is the relationship between the Divine and the Universe?
The Divine permeates the Universe, thus being panentheistic It also has the capacity to be transcendent of the physical Universe, thus allowing for the transpersonal deity that is so recognizable in the major forms of monotheism around the world. The Divine can also be understood to be an integral element of the Universe, inseparable and thus allowing for pantheism. All apparent contradiction between the different aspects of the Divine are resolved by the mystery of the Divine's nature, as revealed by personal gnosis.

What is the relationship between the Divine and humanity?
Humans are both dependent upon the Divine for their existence and separate from the Divine, existing upon their own merits*** . The nature of the relationship between the Divine and humanity is paradoxical. It is one that can not be described directly but only by way of figurative language. Much of the language used is logically absurd, this, however, is because of the inherent weaknesses in language to describe sensory information with great exactness.

The Divine, with its capacity for presenting as individual deities, additionally can have a personal relationship with a given human. This relationship is defined by the individual deity and the person involved with them, much like any other personal relationship.

What is the meaning of Suffering? Why does Suffering happen?
Suffering has no intrinsic meaning. Humans have the capacity to give meaning to suffering within the context of their lives and experiences. The same is true for deities which have suffered****. Suffering is a natural part of the process of being alive. It is a morally neutral event in itself.

What is the nature of Good?
The concept of good can be particularly thorny. The common use of the term describes that which is morally correct. The precept of proper relationship between humanity, itself, the Universe, and the Divine can be approximated by the code of Virtue. Thus, good can be considered a synonym for honorable or virtuous.

What is the nature of Evil?
Evil is understood as the opposite of good. One who is evil, disrespects life and is cavalier in their approach to bringing death to other life forms. They sow intentional and willful suffering amongst other life forms, suffering that is in excess of necessity. Those who are evil spread strife needlessly. They fail to act honorably and violate the natural rights of others*****.


* Cosmology I and Cosmology II.

** A vast amount of the theology is build upon the unique relationship between the practitioner and the Divine. As such, there will be variations that come into play because of the differences in these individual relationships. What is presented here is to be considered a general guide and a reflection of my personal relationship with the Divine.

*** This can also hold true for all forms of life and spiritual beings.

**** It is possible to argue this can be the case with other lifeforms as well.

***** The natural rights of a person are:
  • Self-determination and freedom of thought
  • Freedom of expression
  • To live without the will of another imposed upon them with out their consent
  • To live without the actions of another imposing suffering upon them without their consent
  • To interact with society at their own discretion and decision
  • To defend themselves from others who intend them harm

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Magical Studies: Cosmology II

In my previous post, I discussed the pertinent philosophical cosmological questions with respect to the Universe at large. By logical extension, we have now come to the personal cosmological questions. These questions are:
  • What is the nature of my existence?
  • What is the purpose of my existence?
  • What is the purpose of consciousness?
  • How do I relate to the Universe?
The answers for these questions are different for each person. I propose, however, that there are general answers that can be upheld for most people, despite their respective circumstances. As such, I humbly present the following for your consideration:

What is the nature of my existence?
The nature of the human existence is to be a finite physical being with a finite spiritual aspect. A great deal of overlap is between the spiritual and physical aspects. It is in this overlap that we have the 'mental' element of the human mind, including but not limited to our concept of self, emotions, and abstract thought.

What is the purpose of my existence?
The purpose of human existence is to exist and answer biological imperatives for the perpetuation/continuation of the species. Any additional elements are self directed, thus the purpose for one human's existence is different from the purpose of another human's.

What is the purpose of consciousness?
The purpose of consciousness is to experience existence. It is additionally, to process the experience and incorporate it into the evolving and fluid psyche/spirit of the conscious being. It is not my believe that consciousness is the sole domain of humans. It is my belief that such a line of reasoning is excessively anthropomorphic and grossly flawed.

How do I relate to the Universe?
Humanity is an integral part of the make up of the Universe. We are dependent upon it for our existence even as we are capable of experiencing a sense of independence from it. There are elements of the spiritual aspect of the Universe that are more primarily rooted in said aspect that can have a powerful corresponding influence upon the material aspect. These spiritual elements range in fortitude. The most powerful of them being deities. We have the capacity to interact with these spiritual aspects of the Universe by way of our own spiritual elements.

Magical Studies: Cosmology I

Cosmology has a few different meanings. While I adore physics and find the study of cosmology within that science to be purely a joyful academic exercise, in this blog entry, I am focusing upon the philosophical (specifically metaphysical school) study of cosmology. Within the school of metaphysics, as we look upon the matter of cosmology, there are a few basic questions that must be addressed. These questions are:
  • What is the nature of the Universe?
  • How did it come to exist?
  • What is the Universe made of?
  • How does it function?
  • What is the purpose of the Universe?
  • How do we know what we know of the Universe?
 In a related vein, we also have the questions pertaining to oneself that require to be addressed. These questions are:
  • What is the nature of my existence?
  • What is the purpose of my existence?
  • What is the purpose of consciousness?
  • How do I relate to the Universe?
Before we address the personal questions of existence, let us take a moment to look at the larger questions, of which these are a subset.

What is the nature of the Universe?
The Universe is a complex thing. Various different mythologies can be used to describe it. Ultimately, it is my understanding that the Universe is comprised of various elements that can be observed and interacted with by many different means. I believe that the Universe is an organic whole wherein all parts are interdependent upon the others for their existence and function. I believe that no two people will have identical experiences of the Universe due to the complexity of it.

How did it come to exist?
The physical aspects of the Universe came to exist via a method that is described by the standard cosmological theory.  The 'creation' event is a mystery and one that I do not believe we will ever fully comprehend. The spiritual aspects of the Universe came into existence with a parallel event. It is my understanding that this can be described in many different theological terms. All theological descriptions are allegorical of the initial event and I think that as such, all theological descriptions are valid. The World Tree and the Nine Worlds of the Teutonic peoples has equal place as the Judeo-Christian vision of the cosmos as the atheist's vision of the cosmos.

What is the Universe made of?
I briefly touched upon this in my response to the two earlier questions. Please, allow me to state it directly: the Universe is made of physical and spiritual elements. The physical elements can be understood, observed, and interacted with in accordance to what we know of the material world. The spiritual element is suffused through and incorporated into the physical elements. It is observable by subtle methods and can be interacted with by means of focused mental effort and the exercises that make up the core activities of spiritual behaviors as observed in a religious context and in occultism. This includes but is not limited to the various schools of magic practiced since antiquity.

What is the function of the Universe?
The function of the Universe is the same as the purpose of its existence. This is to simply exist. There is no vast, grand scheme behind the existence of it. It exists and self perpetuates. I do not believe that the Universe technically has a beginning (as all was present within the quantum singularity prior to the 'Big Bang') and that it will not have an ending (because this requires a violation of the first law of thermodynamics).

What is the purpose of the Universe?
See above.

How do we know what we know of the Universe?
All knowledge is based upon experience. We experience the Universe by way of our senses. It is my understanding that our senses are not limited to taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. I believe that we also have spiritual cognates to these senses that can be experienced. It is due to a failure of our language (which is heavily biased towards the classical five senses) that we do not have adequate descriptions of these spiritual cognates. We learn and extrapolate information by way of incorporating details that we become aware of via experience (ie: we see to read a book). At the core of all the information gathering, however, our knowledge comes from experience. All experience is colored by our unique circumstances as a participant-observer of the Universe.