The problem with god…

Well, not so much with god, (which god, btw?) but the system that supposedly promotes him/her/it.

I’ve been stewing on this for a little while, but some Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door early this morning and I was as annoyed at being roused from a decent sleep in as I was at their motives. You see, christendom hasn’t had a genuine spiritual motivation since about the fourth century.

If you go back through the Hebrew scriptures that were misappropriated to form the “old testament” you’ll notice that the Hebrews weren’t monotheists. They knew there were plenty of other goddesses and gods out there, but their deal by virtue of birth or conversion was that they’d only worship a particular one. When christendom first kicked off the founder didn’t even speak to gentiles about conversion, he was interested in motivating Hebrews to a kind of reform.

It wasn’t until the spread of christendom to Hellenic culture and Constintine adopting the religion for Imperial purposes that the whole “one true god” thing got going. It must be pointed out also that Constantine wasn’t a christian. He was only baptised on his deathbed.

For those who felt suitably drawn to connect with the Hebrew god conversion was and still is available. Those from among the Jewish tribes who didn’t feel inclined to engage in the contract were also catered for. They’d be left in Gehenna, that is the garbage dump outside the gates. Not so savoury perhaps, but it was a place outside of the group and it had it’s relevance. There were afterall, plenty of other groups and deities and pantheons to partake of.

Considering the attitude of the prophet to encourage those who would choose personally to join the christian sect of Judaism, before it became a separate Imperial movement of course, such choices were to be made by adults who felt spiritually led. This really torpedoes the whole approach of raising children to a religion by threatening them with torture, exclusion and death if they refuse a particular identity.

If christendom were true to the teachings of it’s prophet, no child would be raised with the lie that christendom is the only true religion and the Hebrew god the only true god. Every person would be able to make her or his own mind up according to their spiritual inclinations, whatever they may or may not be. And forget about running a country by religious law. That’s the one form of leadership that christ specifically forbid, not to mention theocracy also being a direct contradiction of the whole personal salvation ethic. And the fact that humans are a gregarious animal and living with the best interests of the individual and the group at heart is a universal human requirement regardless of religion or ethnicity. Sure it’s had different expressions over the ages but “don’t kill” is hardly specific to christendom, particularly since it’s been disregarded continuously.

There are many goddesses and gods out there and each individual should theoretically be free to discern for her or himself which of the many they feel drawn to, if any. There’s nothing to say that any goddess or god is any better or more capable than any other. As for heaven and hell, well, gehenna was simply a place outside the city gates. Hell was originally the German Hel, which was simply a resting place at the end of life.

The ancient Hebrews were aware of other goddesses and gods worshiped by other tribes but didn’t see fit to account for afterlife in each instance. Pre-christian Europe was replete with many and varied different heavens and hels according to the pantheons and localities. Can one god have ultimate say over the followers of another? Who’s to know what’s possible in that case, but one thing’s for sure you wouldn’t take the word of followers of a particular god who are proven liars and killers.

As a Witch and follower of the old Germanic pantheon, I’m kinda hoping to spend eternity with Freya… if I’m not reincarnated and I’m not so sure about how that would work in the quantum mechanical universe anyways. Suffice it to say that fundamentalist and charismatic christianity is on the rise, particularly in politics and particularly among young people who don’t have very well developed bullshit detectors or have grown up with experiences of violence or other abuse. That’s not because religion fixes abuse, but some churches certainly do exploit the effects of it.

With any luck those of us who are old enough and sharp enough will remain around to point out the issues with such political religion, and hopefully survive to see a more moderate day. Wes thu hael.

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Australia’s shame. Rudd’s neglect.

Further in my series of discontent. This morning I happened across an article in The Australian about a family in crisis. Well, not only is the family in crisis, the State’s child welfare system is an appalling mess.

…eight children living in a three-bedroom house with mice and rubbish in every room.

Four had disabilities: some couldn’t hear properly; some couldn’t walk properly; all were malnourished and had head lice. Several had broken bones, and none could use a knife and fork.

Their mother, a young Sunni Muslim woman, veiled from head to toe, found caring for the children impossible, especially as the older ones grew wilder, and then violent. Her husband, an Iraqi, is believed to have at least two other women he refers to as his “wives” and they, too, have children.

He moves between their different houses. None had paid work.

The NSW Department of Community Services has known of the situation for years; and has surely also known that it was a disaster waiting to happen.

And if you think it’s only the NSW system that’s a disaster, Victoria’s was found to be introducing pre-teen children to drugs and prostitution.

Let’s ignore for a moment the implicit criticism of the mother for being a veiled Muslim, particularly since the article goes on to comment on one foster mother who came to the rescue who took veils off the young girls… Who gives a rats what they wear on their heads if we’re talking about a situation of domestic disaster? Is it only Muslims who have trouble raising kids? It would be interesting to see the comparative stats on white, Christian families who are in crisis. Considering the Government is funding religious schools who train children in the psychopathology of conservative christianism, there’s probably shit loads.

The point is this. The Rudd Government actively discriminates against women and children seeking to leave situations like this. Kevin Rudd denies adequate support for women who are single mothers trying their hardest to provide for their children. He has maintained the bias against women of the Howard Liberal Government and is apparently in denial that he hates women.

Surely if you were in a position to do something about a situation like this, about many, many other people in similar circumstances in Australia right now, you would do something constructive. If you were in a situation to address terrible injustices that had been done previously and make things easier for people to keep their heads above water, you would do so. Yet our Prime Minister, who has been on occasion found drunk in a stripper bar and reprimanded for manhandling the dancers, is too busy criticising a celebrity chef over his abuse of a TV host, to bother addressing one of the worst, most hideous cases of discrimination against women and children in the developed world.

And to make matters worse, not only does Kevin Rudd actively discriminate against women and children who’ve had to leave violent, dangerous, demeaning or otherwise unnaceptable domestic circumstances, he neglects to support families struggling to support children through high school. While having made apparently non-core promises about improving education and enabling children to further their education, support of families ends when a child turns 16, just when they hit the hardest, most expensive school years. He’s also planning to make further changes to welfare law to make it harder for children without jobs to claim any form of welfare. Why on earth, in times when jobs are supposed to be getting harder to come by, would you put pressure on children to leave school and look for work, to compete for jobs with other employees when they could be staying in school and improving their education? And why, if we’re having so much trouble looking after the children who are here, would you be paying a baby bonus to encourage people to have more? (Not to mention there’s already 6 billion people on the planet!)

The fact that the State Governments are responsible for foster care systems does not distract from the Federal Government’s discrimination against single parents. While the children referred to in that article have been living in such dreadful suffering, what has the State Government been doing? Pointing the finger at bikers in an attempt to get re-elected on a law and order platform. Scapegoating bastards.

These are only two of the current hypocrisies of the Rudd Government. And if you think the Liberals would be any better, consider that they created this disgusting, exploitative situation in which we now find ourselves. Why on earth can we not vote for someone who doesn’t hate the poor? Why do the two major parties continue to use people who’ve fallen on hard times and those who are struggling as political footballs to earn themselves points for re-election?

How did Australians become such bastards?

Kevin calling the kettle black

In a superb example of bad timing, just the day following my post about how legislation discriminates against single parents…

Kevin Rudd made a snide comment about the ABC’s Chaser team, telling them to “hang their heads in shame”. He was talking about a skit on the show about suffering kids asking for wishes.

How dare he criticise the Chaser guys for making fun of suffering children when he keeps thousands of children of single parents living in poverty. Two faced bastard.

It reminds me of the time not long after when Steve Bracks replaced Jeff Kennett as Premier of Victoria. We’d all hated Jeff for a long time, not only because he was a shady bloody crook, but he was so incredibly arrogant.

So it seemed we had a good deal getting rid of him for Bracks. Being a Labor Premier it was thought that he’d act more in the favour of people rather than corporate money. Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. He wasn’t so openly self-congratulating, perhaps, but he was no more a friend of the community than Jeff’s toenails.

I do realise this is painfully obvious of course. My partner says “no matter who you vote for, you always get a politician.” At Federal level this is turning out to be just as true.

Because I’m an incurable romantic I’ve gone and joined the Greens again.

Censorship again.

Yes, the idiots are doing it again. Please consider viewing GetUp’s campaign to bring some much needed sense to this issue. There is no need for Australia to become China just because our Prime Minister fancies he can speak Mandarin.

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet/442

Very important.

The Federal Government is planning to force all Australian servers to filter internet traffic and block any material the Government deems ‘inappropriate’. Under the plan, the Government can add any ‘unwanted’ site to a secret blacklist.

Testing has already begun on systems that will slow our internet by up to 87%, make it more expensive, miss the vast majority of inappropriate content and accidentally block up to 1 in 12 legitimate sites. Our children deserve better protection – and that won’t be achieved by wasting millions on this deeply flawed system.

Friday rain on the garden

We haven’t had any rain out here for weeks. Maybe months. The whole place was looking so very, very dry. Then last night great gusting winds blew up and brought us a bit of a downpour. It had been so warm, Summer weather already, so there felt like that electric sensation of wild power in the wind.

The veggie patch looks like a disaster area at the moment. After last year went *so* well I had dreams of planting up the same salad veggies and putting in capsicum and eggplants and other mediterranean things… The available ground was enlarged by about 12 square metres, which was pretty back breaking, and now it’s all buried under self-sown parsley and coriander. It’s been so dry and carting water is *heavy* work! We had salad with dinner the last couple of nights and it seemed very odd to have to go to a shop and buy lettuce. Unnatural! The kids were reminiscing about last Summer’s big bowls of salad… Well, when you have teenagers impressed by green stuff, you’re doing something right.

Out the front of the house the flower garden is surviving. Things are slowly growing and flowering… most of the herbs are doing pretty well. The sage flowered, which was stunning.

I probably shouldn’t digress on the tangent of housing development in the area, it will only make me angry. But this is what we get when we build, build, build with no thought whatsoever for the natural situation of the land we’re building on. It’s a dry place. We need water. Why are we packing in more and more people in a place where there’s so much problem with resources? This is terminal stupidity. At the very least all the new homes ought to have grey water systems and tanks… but while our utilities are privately owned the profit agenda gets in the way of sensible management. Like John Brumby wanting Melbourne Water to build a pipeline to take water from the Murray-Darling, a river that is virtually dead in the (lack of) water. At the same time he’s still allowing logging in old growth forest and catchment areas, a practise which is well known to reduce water catchment. And since 90% of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by the oceans, the next step of course is to begin messing up that whole eco-system for desalination. *sigh* The guy must be nuts, or so hamstrung by corporate interests that his two faces can’t bear to look at one another.

Anyways, enough of the politics. People will simply have to learn the hard way. What’s sad is that the land is harmed so badly in the process. Moreso since we’ve been aware of land management issues like these for more than forty years. Changing light bulbs is one thing, but when are we going to make some seriously constructive changes? And what’s with that baby bonus?! There’s six billion people on the planet, idiots!

Ahem. Yes. Where was I?

Back to my original tangent, what’s been happening around here lately. Well, yeah, the garden finally got some rain and I’m reconsidering now whether to make the effort and put in some more seedlings. Tell you what, it’s given me an awful lot more sympathy for subsistence farmers. Imagine having to grow everything you eat? Whew.

Other than a bit of garden maintenance, most of my time has been spent in discussion with my Shaman friend and exploring more runes and Heathen texts. Recently I’ve had a soul-retrieval and Reiki attunement… so I’m feeling a little beaten up in an odd way. Probably settling in to more balanced energy flow. This week in the tai chi class I was all over the place and couldn’t remember anything, which has never happened before. Still, it’s all building on the experience of connection I felt in plugging myself into this “new” ancient worldview.

Last Monday I went to see my psychologist, and was somewhat circumspect about describing all these new experiences, but she was very positive about it. The biggest hurdle I’ve faced in the last couple of years is the whole issue of meaning. Humans can’t live without meaning. And it needs to be personal. After a long battle with depression and everything else, things have clicked on that basic level and now everything else can shape itself constructively around that centre. Heh, and I am rather clinging to this in hope! ;-)

What were her words? A person needs to centre their lives on themselves and their own perception of meaning, not merely be subject to outside controls and influences… We’re talking about resolving the great psycho-spiritual crisis here. The “spiritual emergency” it’s also been termed. Heh, one other person who’s worked his way through it said “I don’t recommend it!” LOL Certainly it’s a tough thing to go through. A lot of people don’t survive.

It’s no wonder then that there’s a few symptoms of stress still floating around. At night I still can’t sleep, though any time I sit down in the day to meditate I drop off like a stone. And there’s a funny looking rash all over my hands. The usual apres stress stuff, like getting a cold after your exams…

On a more positve note, the runes work is simply stunning. I hadn’t been going to pick them up, since I already have magic, divination, symbolism etc. Then Odin said to me “You’d be good at it.” Anyways, simply reading about the things started something off. They do have a reputation for having a life of their own. I’m happy to agree with that now. Hmm. Let me try to decide how much detail to write here LOL. Let’s say I’ve had a few experiences with trance and rune magic and it’s pretty bloody impressive! The things take root in you somehow and it becomes something organic. Not to mention that they kind of intuit themselves when you’re meditating or um, what’s the word? I keep thinking casting like spell casting, but with runes people say casting when they mean divination. I think it’s runegaldr. Using the energy and symbolism of the runes to effect magic. With drumming :D I’ve never felt power like it. Wow!

Heh. Well, it has been a pretty busy week. I’m looking foward to the weekend to put my feet up a little and drift in the currents. We’ll see how long that lasts. : )

Edit: While reading a Reiki manual I came across the following that is something of a clarification. Often people talk about killing off the ego in an effort for self-development. A point was made some years back during Tarot studies, of all things, that annihalating the ego might be counter-productive, since, according to Jung, it is the seed of the self. If you kill off your self, who are you? Such destruction works well in a system like mainstream christendom, where people are supposed to submit to an overwhelming other… in general it fails to happen and people end up with all sorts of hang ups and emotional damage, but back to the subject. The author of the Reiki manual made the point that when Buddhists speak of “ego” they mean the “conditioning” you’ve been exposed to that is often not helpful and gets in the way of you living your own, more evolved life.

Now *this* seems like a much more intelligent way to look at spiritual growth. We examine our emotional attachments, our memories and the various ways in which we’ve been conditioned by parents, society, perhaps trauma… We learn where these things create or maintain “buttons” in us that are easily pushed, and we recalibrate in order to move forward. Sounds so simple!

Anyways, I was going to have the weekend off. Have a good one.

Congratulations Barak.

So Obama won. Good on him. Much as I would have preferred a female, a change of colour is also a good change. Heh, any change is good after Bush.

Still, it’s a puppet position, is it not. Meet the new boss, long live the king and all that.

If he can seriously make a dint in multinationals, the global kleptocracy and free market piracy then I’ll comment further. As I’m repeating fairly often these days, “you can’t fix a problem with the same thinking that created it” and the political systems in place in the West aren’t going to put anyone up for election who’s seriously able to restructure things. Vested interests and all that.

Still, good luck, mate.

Art for gods’ sake, or I don’t like the drugs…

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There’s been some ideas floating around in my tiny mind for a little while now, images for more artwork.

Last night I popped a couple of painkillers and stayed up late listening to Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails working on this. It’s in progress… The thought of including reference to a couple of runes, like Sig and Berkana came to mind, but one hears horror stories of newbies playing with rune magic and getting their fingers, if not their whole arms, incinerated. So I intend to play it safe with that stuff. Alluring though it is! Are they moth wings I feel growing on my back?

I’m one of these people who goes fast on downers. It’s not unknown, though probably not common. Something about the drug clears my mind and enables some sort of focus on the creative process. It short circuits the emotionally conditioned restraints and repression. Though insightful readers might also observe that it would take pain killers of some sort to have one want to stay up till 2am painting and listening to metal… ;-) Heh. There’s that twitch again.

A friend of mine who’s a well qualified psychologist has commented to me regarding the numbers of people with PTSD symptoms who use opiate pain killers. She feels it’s something to do with a physical, muscular memory of a traumatic event. Training of various kinds, martial arts drilling, sports practise and even music, can create muscle memories. Apparently there’s a more sinister form we’re predisposed to. The fact that the body’s own endorphin receptors closely match the opiates might have something to do with the preference. My friend tells me that she knows of many people who, regardless of any other anti-depressants or prescription medications they might be taking, seem to end up back with the pain killers from time to time.

Not that the similarity in function between the body’s receptors and the drug is any accident. No miracles here. More like thousands of years of co-evolution. For how long have humans cultivated and taken drugs? For how much longer before that were they used (and still used) from the wild for inducing altered states? You wonder how much of the modern human brain is a result of systematic experimentation over generations during our evolution. It’s certainly not a new thing. Criminalising it, however, is. While there would no doubt have been cultural frameworks for such use, the demonisation and criminalisation of drug users in the global kleptocracy seems to be out of all proportion. Apart from creating folk demons to vilify in order to further enforce social control, what’s the point of being so nasty to people who are simply trying to anesthetise themselves? The good old limited news knee jerk in operation. And generations of politicians get themselves re-elected by enacting laws against people they define as “other”, with little or no thought to the social ramifications or the reality of life and community.

And this becomes relevant yet again, as the Victorian Government (no pun intended ;-)) has recently begun demonising biker gangs (again) so as to attempt to validate another push for law and order. No effective point in it at all. You can’t fix a problem with the same thinking that created it. Law and order in this instance is simply smoke and mirrors for a Government that’s on thin ice come the next election, regardless of any better alternative.

Note also that some atypical opiates are recognised as being effective anti-depressants… But when the patents expire, they aren’t nearly so sexy.

There’s also a pretty well established connection between creative types and altered mind states. From Victorian poets getting stoned off their nuts on Opium to contemporary Heroin use among muso’s… Not that I’d advocate unrestrained usage… There’s potential for damage and addiction to consider. We probably need that cultural framework for drug use to set the stage, so to speak. In this as in so many other situations the person taking responsibility for their own experimentation needs to have a basis of self-control and development in order to use an altered state constructively.

Now this is a bit of a tangent, but one that would do well to address. A lot of religious and spiritual teaching seems to take a template of behaviours or virtues and attempt to apply them to a person from the outside. The Greco-Roman purity codes in christendom being a prime example. In puritan religion they’re completely off the chart. The current tendency for Governments to try to legislate morality is another case. The controls are operating externally so that the standards of behaviour or thought are being forced onto a person from the outside, like a stamp into concrete. It’s an external impression, rather than one that develops from within. And it’s generally effected with the aid of a truck load of emotional manipulation and what boils down to psychological abuse.

It’s a vastly different approach to cast off all that expectation and follow one’s own nose. Think of every prophet or spiritual journeyman who’s reconsidered the church’s teachings and decided to wander off in search of their own meaningful spiritual experience, their own relationship with and understanding of god. There’s a whole history of people run out of town on the end of pitch forks or brutally murdered, an effective lesson to anyone else who gets ideas about freedom. One needs to be very, very brave indeed to travel paths not approved of by controlling interests.

Again it’s a painful, awful experience, but hugely valuable, to focus on the internal self, and develop to the point where limits and behaviours are an expression of the inner self and desire for balance and creativity, rather than simply toeing someone else’s line. Naturally not everyone wants to devote the time and suffering to such development. Equally as naturally those benefitting from global culture would probably be horrified if too many people desired to become conscious of the manipulation and control that goes on and attempt to develop their own inner compass. Not only is it highly valuable for the individual concerned, but what they are then able to contribute back into the community is vastly superior in terms of it’s creative contribution. If said community is willing to move forward. ;-)

That’s the curiosity I have with the Nine Noble Virtues in Asatru. Yes, some people are going to want that kind of guidance and a source of centring for their moral code, an agreed upon series of objectives for the sake of security. But why, if one has access to the freedom and tools for magic and development, would one cast off one set of chains in exchange for another? If you’re going to go to the trouble of changing so much of what you’ve been brought up to believe, surely it’s worth the trouble to go another mile and sort your core values from the inside out? It does, however, take an awful lot of emotional energy to maintain the kind of effort it requires to filter, even semi-consciously, the influences operating on people these days. Every ad will try to push a button somewhere in you. And they’re hugely sophisticated. All of which is not to say that the Virtues are not a good thing in themselves. It helps to have a frame of reference for any group interested in spiritual practise and development. I am simply clarifying my own approach of “do as you will shall be the whole of the law.” Not one that goes over well in convict culture. ;-)

And while I’m jumping around all over the place on wild tangents I thought I’d wonder out loud about a thought that came to me this morning some time. I had a bit of a moment with the Hebrew god, basically a parting of the ways. Thanks, seeya and all that. In some way I feel there was a connection there with something, however manipulated and inappropriate it may have been. Spiritual connections are always powerful for me and perhaps we both got something from my journey of questioning and discovery… Certainly the Hebrew god as I came to understand him had way too much in common with Odin to be coincidence. I’ve been on the hook for a long, long time. Someone, I think it may have been Jordsvin, made the comment that “It wasn’t my own faith, it was someone else’s that I’d picked up along the way.” That makes a lot of sense. My expression would be that it wasn’t my faith, it was someone else’s that was given to me when I didn’t know any better.

After all, Odin’s claimed me now. I had this amazing vision whereby the Hebrew god sort of pulled my soul away from himself and released me on the breeze like a spider borne on a thread of silk… Odin reached out his hand and caught the thread, which he passed to Frigga who, smiling, wove me into the work on her loom. Now that’s magic.

Makes you wonder exactly who is underneath all the weird and not so wonderful stuff people have done with the spirit that inspired christendom… I mean, these days I’m not so sure about the whole Jesus thing at all. Street corner prophets were a dime a dozen in Roman occupied Palestine. There is so little original material of anything in the New Testament as well. It seems to me possible that the sayings and stories might well be sourced from more than one person or tradition. In addition the idea of the last supper and the crucifixion and resurrection are not part of the earliest writings. They do follow the practises of the Mithraic cult and were introduced later. Much later still came the idea of Jesus as the Christ, hundreds of years after the fact. Crucifixion didn’t make Jesus the Christ, a meeting of Roman bishops and powermongers did, 400 years later.*

So now if the man or men were not as they’re popularly described today, which is very likely, who exactly is the spirit behind the whole deal as we see it in operation today? Given some of the teachings around, some of them seem to be pretty vicious deceptive spirits. Somewhere in there also is something like a Buddha consciousness and somewhere buried under all the social conditioning, Imperial politics and self-interested dogma is elohim. And you can go look up that word in some progressive source before you jump to conclusions :D

Anyways. Just a thought. ;-)

*Which doesn’t derail the metaphor, similar to Odin hanging on the world tree, that we become more than we are through these journies.