Thursday, October 19, 2006

I don't talk about religion or spirituality to much of anyone, unless I truly feel that a point needs to be made. I don't put what I believe in anyone's face, because that kind of behaviour is the exact opposite of how one who is behaving how God would ask of them would behave. That is to say - extremely self righteous and fearful of anything not specifically spelled out for them.

There are precious few people who know what i do believe, and most people, if I attempted to explain, would get really confused because of the seeming paradoxes. Before i go into the tyrade which is building, I will say this: I do not adhere to the tenets of any organized religion, because i feel that unless one can take those tenets as a whole package and live by them and believe them, that one cannot truly be what the label ascertains. This is also the reason why i do not call myself a democrat, or a republican, or a goth or any other member of an organized group anymore. I do not believe in labels, they are confining and do not allow for the variation that humans possess, nor the growth of mind, emotion and spirit that can essentially allow one to outgrow a label. To identify oneself with a label is pigeonholing, and often leads to conforming to a stereotype that is unrealistic to live up to and unhealthy at that.

I do have tremendous respect for many religious and spiritual traditions, and tolerant of many varied practices of worship. I have found in my continued explorations of various faiths that there are universal similarities and truths that tie these different faiths together. Some people would have me burned at the stake for even suggesting this.

I believe that there are some truths, which one must discern for themselves - not merely parroting actions condoned by someone in a position of religious power or from someone who is simply the loudest voice. Truths which are inherent in all men, if they can put aside their baggage long enough to realize they have baggage, use their minds and hearts and realize that truth goes beyond simply reading something and believing it because it is printed and someone else tells you you should.

What am I getting at? What set me off?
It's set me off before, but I didn't feel like bloggin or didn't have the right words. but it is behaviour that upsets many people of every faith.

So, I've been studiying alchemy. Yes, get that stake ready. Alchemy, unlike the typical thought of greedy magicians bent on making gold out of whatever leftovers were in the fridge (though there were those who tired just that) is a spiritual practice that basically involves gaining knowledge of oneself and one's perspective of the world so that one may transmute that which is negative and unhealthy into that which is positive, and discover the divine nature within all of creation.

Alchemy has many strange symbols, and emblems which look like something out of dreams as they are so incongrous upon viewing, but every symbol stands for something. Alchemy is like a language, and the emblematic ideas originated from the ancient misinterpretation of egyptian hieroglyphics. The tradition of alchemy spans many centuries, supposedly arising from egypt, has effected islamic, christian, and chinese cultures, as well as having jewish/hermetic/kaballistic elements.
it is utterly fascinating, and very rich with symbolism that people such as Karl Jung have done indepth studies of it and made breakthroughs in discovering elements of the human psyche and personality. Alchemy, in short, is a study of the soul and its world/origins. Alchemy can also be called a study of nature. One of the main thoughts in Alchemy is that God is everywhere, in everything, that there is no separation from God. Separation is an illusion, and that illusion is what oftens leads to unhealthy problems. (ie, sin or baggage or whatever you care to call it)

Alchemy was at times scrutinized and sometimes condemned by THE CHURCH as heresy or an occult practice, depending on who was in charge or what century. Never mind that many very important figures such as St Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, and other clerical notables recognized how alchemy incorporated universal philosophical ideas from aristotle, plato and socrates, and are counted among those considered alchemists because of their spiritual use of the information, even if they didn't do the actual physical experiments with nature (they served as a parallel to reinforce the spiritual side)

So...alchemy, and....Harry Potter - this is where i am going.
I know too many people who love this damn series. It's a wonderfully well written series with rich symbolism both alchemical and literary, which is still getting the persecution that stories such as Narnia or Lord of the Rings has gotten.

i was going to look up some symbolism this morning that I was curious about related to the story, when of course i stumble across the google entry about how Harry Potter is evil and alchemy is evil, evil evil evil blah blah blah. I should know better than to waste my time with this tripe, but I gotta get this off my chest, bear with me.

I have come across this site, ones affiated with it, and ones similar to it several times. You know what I'm talking about.

A site that is run by god fearing (in the extreme)fundamentalist evangelical christians who believe that if something doesn't have the obligatory and obvious neon stamp of jesus's approval, that the target is a calling card of OUR pal, satan.
They use the word occult as if they meant the word gonorhea, and overuse it without even understanding what OCCULT actually means.

So Harry Potter - really, ANY story with fantasy creatures that don't exist on our representational earth, along with martial arts, any other religious symbols, or any symbols they feel like (lump in other things like movies, music, intelligence and common sense) are doorways for demons via the occult.

harry potter is a way for your kids to get involved in dangerous magical practices that will lead them to all sorts of ungodly behaviour - like thinking for oneself.

How odd, that people who thump the bible so much are blind to the fact that there exists a type of story called a PARABLE - essentially an allegory. These stories contain a surface story, which is representational - but also a hidden layer of deeper meaning.

Occult, as a latin word, means hidden. hidden from obvious sight. Ther person who looks only for an obvious meaning will only see the surface of the story, and miss the richer meaning contained within which can only be gleaned through the mind and also the heart. We're talking higher functions here.

The bible itself is rich with stories that are metaphorical in nature, and highly symbolic outside of the obvious actions. Ever tried understanding revelations? having trouble with Genesis? Revelations especially is thick with symbolism and was written from a VISION - visions are not always literal (note how dreams behave)
To take some of this stuff literally is to miss a whole lot of points. How do I know what to take literally? well, that's where discernment comes in. Some people have a great deal of trouble with that. bible stories in particular were written for both levels of human understanding - the esoteric and the obvious so that everyone could come away with the right message.

however, there are people who can't even seem to get the outer message right. they bend it out of shape, take it out of context, and apply biblical means to situations that don't mesh with out current times and culture.

these are the kind of people who fear the occult, who fear movies, books, pictures - and basically everything. They can't see past their own nose. They are so based in fear and concentrating on avoiding the devil that they see what they want to see in things they don't understand. Why these people always have to be the loudest will always confound me. They are so busy protecting themselves against evil that they make themselves incapable of seeing any good and letting it in. they draw the negativity to them because they give it so much focus, then they bask under the banner of self righteousness because it makes them feel better.

they wave Jesus around like a flag - he almost becomes objectified and little more than an idol or an icon, which is truly sad. they are the people that will tell you that to accept jesus as your saviour and keep him in your heart and use him as an anti devil talisman, but they never walk the walk and they don't give you any good reasoning WHY Jesus will save you and why you should follow him because they don't even know. They simply spout bible verses and expect you to follow along (or not, because if they give you a misleading or misinterpreted quote they feel even more righteous because you can't understand them)

So, harry potter leads to the occult - not that they can give you a real definition or honest examples of what the occult IS, because being good God fearing christians, they are not allowed to even do proper research. God would smite them for sure if they so much as tried. That, and they always like to be right.

I pooped around the site a bit, just to get a feeling for what they were getting at, and it only continued to frustrate me. their sheer ignorance, fear and self righteous behaviour is absolutely suffocating. there are some times when they do mix truth in - but it makes it that much worse. they love to bring up statistics to back things up - especially when things are only vaguely related.

they are under the impression also that everything is black and white, that all is absolute. They are what Mike would call tin foil haberdashers - if you look at their site, they are afraid and against EVERYTHING. Be it Bush, Muslims, the illuminati, any other religion you can think of, holidays, etc. They apparently are into government conspiracy theories as well. (I'm noting one site in general, but there are 2 that I am talking about)

this other site has a link on the previous noted one:

If you feel like making yourself pissed off, or aware of just how ignorant and unstable some people can be, go ahead, be my guest.

These people are obviously paranoid delusional among other things (the first site)
The second site sheds light on the fact that these people believe humans are so lowly as to not even deserve God's love, that existence is ro rife with sin that thinking about anything but Jesus is indicative of the hand of satan.

the thing that bugs me is they make jesus the be all end all - like accepting him is the answer and you don't question what the meaning of that acceptance is. You don't go any deeper than the surface. They act as if THEIR GOD (JESUS) is separate from all the other heathen gods of the world. They are not tolerant, they are blinded, they are fearful, they are self hating even.

This is not healthy behaviour and not an example that ANYONE of ANY religion would want to follow because it WILL mess up your views and beliefs.

I disagree with their thought that belief alone can SAVE you, especially when it's SO important that you believe the "right" thing, which is what THEY do.

Faith and knowledge go together. one should lead to the other, and if that isn't occuring, then there can be no spiritual development.

"Good" christians like this are full of too much talk and not enough action. the people that I have looked to to really inspire me to actually be good people are not the ones who are getting you to confess to their belief system, but the ones who lead by quiet example. The guy who holds the door open for you, the person who helps you pick up the groceries you dropped, the cashier who says have a nice day and means it. the people who actually care about PEOPLE and aren't out there to judge you based on a surface appearance.

perhaps it's too OCCULT to look beyond the surface of a person and see God in them.
If that's the case, light yer matches now and hang me upside down, cuz i'm guilty guilty guilty.

halle-fucking lujah!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In my spare time, I find myself returning to research a subject which has fascinated me for as long as I have been alive - dreams.

I recently had a slight bout of insomnia again, woven in with a nightly repetition of hypnogogic imagery (which was happening whether or not I was having trouble sleeping. Mike sent me the word of the day on a website after mentioning the things I was seeing - that word being hypnogogia.

Hypnogogic and hypnopompic states occur just before falling asleep and after waking up, respectively. In these states, one may seem to be fully awake, but there are images, sounds, and even smells that can occur that one may think is an actual dream.

What was happening to me - and is not an uncommon thing as of late, is I was laying in bed and would open my eyes and see - superimposed on the darkened room, colored patterns - geometric, brightly colored, some of them had a sacred heart pattern - related to the crafts i've been working on. I've seen plenty in this state before - bugs - some which have scared me to the point of shouting and alarming Mike, people laying next to me -whether or not mike was there, people standing at the foot of my bed, floating above me...etc. I've also heard voices, whistlings, other sounds.

So, after a week of this, my interest in reading about dreams has been sparked yet again. Mike says that I really should participate in a dream study - just about anything strange that could happen to me that is dream related has indeed happened.

I clearly remember one of the first dreams I had - I was certainly single digits, 4 or younger. I had vivid dreams and many nightmares all throughout ,my childhood, many of which I could still recount to you, even if only in large chunks. I was also a sleepwalker and talker. Apparently I would walk and talk with my eyes open, according to my parents, who would have to tell me to go back to sleep after encountering me doing...whatever I happened to be doing. The only proof i have of this is waking up in my room, seated on the edge of my bed with the light on, and not knowing how I got there.

Also when I was little, I had very memorable if not frightening experiences with sleep paralysis - which is what is supposed to happen when one sleeps so one does not act ones dreams and sleepwalk or harm themselves. I have specific instances in my memory which terrified me because I did not know what was going on. I'm not going to recount them at the moment, but I will say that the experience was something I'll not soon forget, and at times I still experience such things - although in a much milder way with knowledge of what is happening.

I have had lucid dreams for most of my life as well - lucid dreams being dreams in which you know you are dreaming and can take action to effect or change your dream.
Apparently, lucidity is something that most people can learn (or have to learn). I'm not sure what tips me off half the time that I'm dreaming. the most obvious thing that is noticeable is trying to read - when you try to read in a dream, the symbols change and morph almost exactly like the matrix code, making it hard to read. this has been a clue for me many times. problem is - I read a lot in dreams - that is the letters and numbers have stayed still for me long enough to read papers, paragraphs, books, etc. Sometimes I can watch as the words change and remember what they've changed to. I don't know too many people who can read in dreams.

Anyhow, lucid dreams occur quite a bit for me. i once had a two week solid bout of them - and had so many that i couldn't even write them all down. In a lucid dream, I typically try to keep myself lucid as long as possible by reminding myself that i am dreaming - else i can get carried away into the adventure. I have used techniques like spinning - spinning my body around in a dream to prolong it or change the scene. I have been lucid and conscious in between dreams in a place i like to call - the void - that dark space in between that fades one dream out and another in.

I have learned to do things like levitate objects, change objects or people, change my own appearance, or do "magical" things like making things appear. These abilities are something I have learned and REMEMBERED to do as an adult in my dreamtime. the mere fact that i can remember something I learned in a dream is amazing to me.

Some other things I like to do when i have lucid dreams, is talk to people and tell them that they are in a dream. Sometimes they are amazed. Sometimes, they look at me like i have three heads.

Lucid dreams are almost always extraordinarily vivid - hyper vivid with details that are far sharper than waking life. usually this sharpness is what "awakens" me. I have had very vivid dreams which never became lucid.

Speaking of lucid, the people i meet in dreams are not always as such. I am usually brought to lucidity when i talk to someone who seems extremely "real" and answers my questions the way one would in a normal conversation. anyone whose answer i cannot make out, or mumbles and spews out nonsense, is not a very lucid character.

In general, I never have dreams about the mundane much - i do not dream of the events of the day and/or rehash recent events that have occured in waking life. Some activities i do are mundane, but usually they are taking place in a crazy setting of things are happening that could never occur in waking life. Flying, breathing underwater, seeing fanciful creatures or strange effects is normal for me apparently.

I do have repeating themes, but I have no recurring dreams that I recall. I almost always have at least part of one dream a night at the house I grew up in - and I usually can't go much further than a block from it before the dream changes. My parents as characters are fairly frequent, as is Mike, but there are some people who are good friends that I rarely dream about. I tend to meet a lot of people who i don't know. I have discovered myself palying the role or living the life of another person - usually I end up being lucid when i realize i'm not being me. Most of the time though, I am me, or me willing and aware of playing another role, and most often am part of the action. I have had dreams where I am "watching" the goings on, but these are rare.

Other common themes I've had are the losing teeth (these are rarer now that I'm older), picking up coins on the ground and the more i pick up the more i see, being chased, flying (i'm the only one in my dreams who flies), falling (i've hit - you don't die when you hit folks, sorry to tell you). I don't fall much anymore - it's almost all flying. Also i dream about the tower - or the dark tower, however you want to put it. the tower appeared in my dreams far before i knew about the stephen king novel. The tower is almost always a baroque era church spire, very tall and ornate - usually black or gray but sometimes (lately) with a patina finish. I am always startled by it or fiercely afraid of it and have a hard time looking at it. in recent dreams, I have been seeking it out and overcoming my fear of it. I also had a history of dismemberment dreams when younger that disturbed me, as well as a recurring theme of cars trying to run me over or crush me in parking lots. trucks especially.

While it has been years since i had a car trying to run me down in a dream, I did have a repeat of that theme a few nights ago when a red semi was coming after me from out of nowhere and i could not escape. i had to end the dream to be free of it.

yes, i can make dreams end if they are bad. i can either go into the "void" or wake myself up if i sense things going awry. This is something i learned at a very young age when i was having a lot of nightmares. my mom sat me down and talked to me about ways to control my dreams so i wouldn't have so many nightmares.

Other lingering themes i've noticed are fear and distaste for industrial landscapes, highways and commercial areas. I'm always trying to get away into the trees or forest.

On the really messed up end of the scale, I have had experiences that can only be described as "leaving one's body". Call it what you will, i recall having this experience when i was little and I have it more frequently now. Basically, I am on my way to sleep, and can feel myself falling asleep - I am conscious all the way down. I feel heavy, i am aware of my body position, and i pay attention as the room sounds warp and change - other sounds often take their place. At some point, I realize that i can sit up and move - I am still aware of the position my body is in, but, i can walk away from it and go into a dream which is usually lucid for most of the time.

I realize that for most people, you're not gonna get this and it sounds really out there. but trust me - whatever weirdness exists involving sleep and dreams - I've had it and it only gets more poignant all the time.

I remember several dreams a night, and unlike Mike who seems to have to "remember" them, I can usually recount them as if they were a waking event that just happened. Sometimes the info gets lost or buried for a bit, but the dreams I do remember surface quickly and even if i lose specific details, i can tell you the overall jist.

there are Some spells when i don't remember dreams. these times usually frustrate me and make me unhappy, as I enjoy my nightly vacation. Not remembering is rare for me.

And, I must also say that i usually dream in color - vivid color, although some dreams are fuzzy and grey.

I have pulled ideas, foreign words I shouldn't know, drawings, and inspiration out of my dreams. Sometimes i wonder, do I dream this way because i am an artist, or an I an artist because i dream this way?

I've read in a few places that some people view dreams as having no adaptive purpose - that is, they really have no use or pertinance to the waking world as gleaned from some statistics of how people dream and how dreams (or lack thereof)effect people.

I tend to disagree with dreams not having some sort of adaptive purpose. If nothing else, i know that I have slept well if i have dreamed well. I can't count the amount of times I've gotten info from dreams that helped somehow in my art, or my emotional situation. I've at times - rarely - asked a question and gotten an answer.

I have, over the years, figured out what much of my dream symbolism means to me and have been able to apply it to my waking life. there have been paralells between my behaviour in dreams and my awake behaviour. I do keep a dream journal, but I don't write everything down. I'd be up all night if I had to wake up and write down my dreams the way they tell you to. I've been able to recall dreams and details well into the morning when i wake - and have spent a half hour to an hour scrawling my adventures.

Whatever the actual purpose, I feel very fortunate to have the weird experiences that i do. I realize that i am not wired the way most people are and that i am an exception to the rule for the most part. In fact, I really wonder what the hell is up with me sometimes, as NOBODY I know has had the experiences i've had. (this is just one of the reasons i feel i will never need drugs) I actually wish more people i knew remembered their dreams as i do - i enjoy talking about them, and listening to others dreams. I can't imagine not remembering them the way many people I've encountered claim. It would be like missing an arm or a leg.

that said, I should wind down and pet pigs so I can be ready for the nightly excursion. If any of you "see" me on the other side, feel free to say hello! ;)