Most Protestant Christians balk heavily at the Eastern Orthodox belief in
Theosis (the act of becoming one with God), but really, do they have to?
Theosis, or divinization—making something divine–isn’t a far cry from the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which many evangelical fundamentalists talk about with a great deal of fervor. They can’t wait for this blessed event (oh, boy can’t they!) First there’s the Rapture, Armageddon, Judgement, and then the pinnacle of their existence; their Marriage to Christ himself.
But what is a marriage, but the union of two into one?
Seems to me, in the end, both parties are saying the same thing.
If Theosis and The Wedding are the same, then what about the belief in other world religions that we are one with God already, because we came from him, and we will return to him.
I know the arguments here—mostly from evangelicals, and I’ve heard them all before, ad nauseam—that for starters, unlike Christians, who see us humans as irrevocably separate from God, Buddhists and Hindus believe we are already one with him(and her) and that our separation is an illusion in our heads.
I know I can take ideas most people see as completely opposing and link them together. It comes from being both left and right brained at the same time, BUT, I still think all these supposedly conflicting views are saying the SAME thing, just in different ways.
For example, if you see yourself as already one with God, and every time you have a thought that conflicts with that oneness you quickly remind yourself it’s an illusion, wouldn’t you, over time become more God-like? More loving, less judgmental, more in charge of yourself, your thoughts and actions toward others?
I think you would.
In fact, it might be psychologically healthier, and more productive than calling yourself a big fat sinner doomed and deserving of hell because you had the audacity to be born. Hmmm…. that just doesn’t sound productive to me. It’s like being on a diet and saying, I won’t eat the cookie over and over, until you eat the cookie because it’s all you can think about. Wouldn’t it be better to say something like, “I love carrots, so I’m going to eat one,” and then keep saying it until you love carrots so much you can’t think about cookies anymore?
Yeah, I think that sounds better.
Just my opinion, but it seems most of the world’s religions are getting to the same point, in their own way, kinda like the proverb about three blind men petting an elephant and trying to describe what animal it is. They all say something different, and yet they are all petting an elephant none the less.
I was really looking forward to getting this deck because I’m a big fan of iconography. Unfortunately, it looks like it had a rough time getting here:
But okay, it’s just the little book, which I’ll probably only use for a week or two at best… A few of the cards weren’t cut very well though.
I got past that because I really did want all that beautiful artwork right under my fingers.
It looks better in the photos. The images on the card faces aren’t as crisp as they should be. The card stock is really just too thick and that makes for some difficult shuffling, especially if you’re shuffling challenged (like I am).
I know, I know, all that sounds pretty negative. I’ve been working with this deck for a few weeks and it does have its good sides. It’s easy to read and doesn’t deviate too far from the comfort of the Rider-Waite system. I wouldn’t say it’s going to usurp my favorite deck (The Mucha Tarot) but it’s not going into that box in my attic anytime soon either. The Byzantine Tarot would be great for readings with clients from a Catholic background, especially if they really want a reading but feel like they might be doing something wrong.
The producers of this deck stated they tried not too make it overly Christian, BUT, I mean, come on, it’s a deck full of early church iconography, so it can’t really be helped…
So, there it is; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s by no means perfect but if you’re drawn to iconography, or your Catholic and feel more centered around biblical images then this would be a great match for you.
There’s a lot of talk about Twin Flames out there in cyberspace, and how they differ from Soul Mates; the Karmic Soul Partner. According to Jewish tradition there’s no specific distinction between Twin Flame and Soul Mate/Karmic Partner. They believe that every relationship (specifically a marriage relationship) is bashert, a Yiddish word for ‘fated’. They don’t believe that every marriage you will be in will be with your true soul mate, so yes, there is some wiggle room for what could be called a Karmic Mate in their tradition but it’s not as distinct.
According to Jewish belief, every soul, when created by God, is then split into two halves, like Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. According to this, everyone has a Soul Mate/Twin Flame, however that doesn’t necessarily mean the person you are with is them. It may be bashert, but not your true other half. I’m not sure this is any less complicated than the New Age version of this concept, but there it is…
Does all that Soul Mate, Twin Flame, Bashert business mean you should dump the chump you’re with because you’re not completely head-over-heels happy, and go looking for your TF?
Yes, absolutely. You totally deserve the perfect match for you in every way. Someone who will never fight with you (i.e. challenge you to grow), never tell you you’re wrong, and give you such fantastic sex that you’ll never leave the bedroom; run out of money, and starve to death with your creditors lined up down the block. Especially if you are married to them—no, not your creditors—I mean, really, everyone is getting divorced these days so you might as well do it too. It’s practically a rite of passage, so just do it already. Oh, afraid you might hurt your spouse, who is essential a good, altruistic person. Meh, it’s good for them. You’re just opening a door to heaven so God can teach them all about being used and how love is for losers anyway.
Sadly, I could go on like this forever but no one would find it amusing except for me, and probably my dad who is just sick enough to find that kind of thing funny. This attitude however is essentially why even though I consider myself a mystic (and yes, my moon is in Aquarius) I could never be full on New Age. Seriously, some of the stuff they come up with…
But I digress.
It’s one thing if your current partner is abusive, has cheated on you, or the marriage is already failing with absolutely no hope of reconciliation. But, really, if you’re about to drop a good man or woman simply because you think there is someone better for you then I’m sorry, but I find that pretty selfish. According to Jewish tradition every marriage is bashert. Meant to be. How can you be absolutely sure the person you’re with isn’t your Soul Mate? There’s no saying, either in Judaism or any other religion for that matter, that relationships will be easy.
Often times it’s the trees that grow the most slowly that produce the best fruit.
Judaism allows for reincarnation too. They believe the Devine Feminine doesn’t need to incarnate as many times as the male (interesting concept, coming from the belief that women are uniquely aware of God in ways that men aren’t.) If you’re a man reading this, sorry to break this to you, but your other half might be with God right now, waiting for you to not fluff it up for a change. LOL.
I suppose this does leave some room for the idea that your soul mate could be one of your Ministering Spirits, as the Christian New Testament calls them. Some call them Spirit Guides. Catholics would call them Saints. If that’s the case then, again, most likely you’re male. The Jewish tradition also believes that the Devine Masculine is always incarnated into a male body and the Feminine into a female.
Females can choose to reincarnate, in love for her soul mate, because she wishes to accompany him. Does that mean it’s easier for a female to find her Soul Mate? Well, not necessarily. According to tradition, if he really screws things up, God will send her to a man without a soul mate currently incarnated, for her own protection. Something to keep in mind if you’re a woman out there having a hard time finding her Twin Flame. It could be he’s just not ready for you yet. Either that or he’s a real arse, and you might be better off loving the one you’re with anyway.
One thing I really like about the Jewish take on this (or at least the modern interpretation) is that it views women from a positive light. Certain other religions could learn a few things here (Fundamental Christianity included). I’m sickened by how quick they are to blame everything they perceive to be evil on women. Have you ever read the writings of the early church fathers for example? I mean, really? Sexually oppressed much, are you people?!
But I digress… Again.
This is just one of several interpretations on Twin Flames, but I do find it all really fascinating how the Jewish tradition has this worked out in their minds. They account for marriages with decent people that really shouldn’t be dissolved because you thought you shared a sudden psychic bond with someone from across a room, and women are seen as a uniquely valuable and necessary counterpart to the Devine Masculine, not natural-born Jezebels in wait to consume men whole. (Well, ok, there are some women like that out there, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.)
My son and I were waiting around for him to be released to go home after outpatient surgery. His girlfriend at the time was really into astrology, and to pass the time he brought up an app she’d recommended. We’d intended on entertaining each other, maybe get a laugh or two out of it, but then something strange happened.
I won’t try and duplicate his horoscope for the day because I’m a big picture thinker and can’t remember it word for word anyway, but I do remember that we both stopped laughing and everything got really quiet. It had pretty much summed up this semi-momentous moment of his life. His first surgery. No, not in that exact way, but it did describe something important happening and that it would likely involve his health. (*Note: I don’t read the daily horoscope, nor do I recommend it, since there’s far more involved in a person’s fate than their sun sign, which is what you find in the daily apps. Only vaguely do I recommend following retrogrades or transits either, as I firmly believe fate is actually in the hands of God, and that his will transcends astrology.)
But that was a coincidence, right? I mean, come on, astrology? I would have thought so too, only next we went on to read a basic description of my personality type based on my sun sign. I’m a Libra. By nature we tend to be diplomatic, scholarly, dressed well, and generally… clears throat… beautiful. (Picture a good-looking librarian type—the sexy librarian.) Did I mention we’re also modest? (Just kidding. We’re not, trust me.)
What we do best though, is relate to people. I began to think over my experiences that day at the hospital, realizing that even though the staff was there to relate to us, I’d spent most of that day trying to relate to them. For the crabby nurse I put on a smile and a joke. The anesthesiologist with the big smile got a good laugh from me when he told a joke, and the tired orderly was thoroughly thanked for his efforts.
That was when I began to wonder if there might be something to this. I’d always been curious about astrology but dismissed it because logic dictated that it just wasn’t worth exploring. Then again, I’ve always liked a good mystery. I set out to gain a better understanding. That was a year ago, and now I’m writing this post saying I believe there is something to be learned from the heavens.
How do I justify my acceptance of Christ as my savior, and astrology at the same time?
First I want to say that it’s not my duty to justify my beliefs in the first place, nor is it my job to tell others how to believe. I leave that stuff up to God, he knows better than I do. However, for educational purposes, I will go into what I have learned and how I believe. Feel free, of course to ask Him yourself. If you listen He will tell you what He wants from you.
That out of the way, I have to say that I’ve come to the point where I believe that if there’s any truth to be found in the stars then it’s there because God created it that way. Unless you’re a Gnostic Christian, you must believe that God made the heavens and the earth, so either what the sky has to tell us is complete gibberish, or he designed it to tell us things, like what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what his plan is for our time here in our incarnate form. Life is like school. We’re on this planet to learn, and when—if—we finish learning we will be as the resurrected Christ was; in a new body, back to do amazing things. Don’t believe all that hype about sitting on clouds strumming harps, BTW, because it’s not going to be like that. God will have jobs for each of us. Really amazing jobs, like what the angels do.
Think about this, who could possibly have assembled the stars at the time of creation, in just such a way as to mark the moment of your birth? Could it be the same one who marked the birth of the Christ in the same way? No one else could have designed it like that. The stars and planets don’t belong to Satan. He didn’t design them to mark our birth and life. God did that.
Astrology is mentioned in the bible too. I’m not going to extrapolate on this, but here are some verses to ponder.
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. 9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the South.
31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?
8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name:
10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
(Word of warning, if you feel inclined to worship the moon, sun, or anything else rotating around up there, check your head-space; they are not God.)
4 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
2 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
“I’m a Mystic,” I told them. They’d known me for years but I’d never come clean about it before, because I knew they wouldn’t like it very much.
“You’re a what?” Alice asked. “Is that like a witch?” Her eyes got all big as if she thought I was about to cast a spell on her.
“Isn’t that a sin?” Kendra said from across the table in a low whisper.
I took a deep breath and tried to explain myself…
What is a mystic anyway, besides an eccentric weirdo who fits in nowhere and in no place, someone who is seen by most Christians as too esoteric for the faith, and by the New Age movement as a dinosaur of a bygone era–the age of Pieces, anyone?–best left buried?
Unfortunately the words Esoteric, Mysterious, Obscure, and Magical don’t exactly help my case any when it comes to certain secs of Christianity, particularly the Evangelicals (the background I come from) and the Fundamentalists (certain family members I can’t seem to hide hard enough from) who both see God as completely defined and one hundred percent known through the bible. According to them, there is no mystery, nothing obscure, and the word esoteric practically gives them a case of the hives. Now, no one is required to justify their beliefs in the first place. Faith is faith, and it comes from a secret (dare I say esoteric) part of one’s own mind and heart; but let’s face it, people like to define themselves with a label, and they love to define others that way too. Labels aren’t always bad. They allow us to categorize people so we’ll know how to properly relate to them.
I’m going to go ahead and try to label the unknown.
To be a mystic, means firstly to seek after a tangible experience with God, sort of the guru thing, with meditation and waiting on the Creator to commune with you. Or more accurately, I should say, that we wait for our ‘monkey brains’ to chill down to the point where God can finally be felt and heard. Is the whole Experiencing God thing even real in the first place? Well, I’ve BEEN there, at the Throne Room, Heaven, Time Space Continuum, Behind the Veil, or whatever else you want to call it, but obviously my personal account isn’t quantifiable. But then neither is faith. God can’t exactly be measured and put to the Scientific Method. So for me, yes, it’s real. I would even go as far as to say that it’s more real than this three dimensional world of our five senses.
In Christianity there’s this whole deal about how God is a loving Father who wants to have a personal relationship with us. Cool, right? Well, it is, but most churchy type people will, and in the very same breath, tell you that to experience God firsthand is wrong. They’ll tell you it’s dangerous and that you’ll catch a demon that way. (Kind of like catching a cold, I guess.) The obvious problem here is that these two points are diametrically opposed.
“God wants to have a personal relationship with us” verses “we shouldn’t do anything to foster that relationship but pray in certain logical ways and read the bible.” Oh and be a good person, but let’s face it, every faith including Wicca will tell you that.
And yet… in the bible, that they hold in such high regard that it’s practically become an idol to them, people had, can anyone guess???
“That’s right boys and girls.” They had mystical experiences with God.
“By golly, really?”
“Yes, that’s right, Timmy, they did.”
So, how on earth does one, who is a seeker by nature like me, who actually had a mystical experience with God as a teenager long before any training on meditation, reconcile the mainline Christian viewpoint with personal experience? They don’t. Because you can’t. They are opposed. Thus the reason why I consider myself a Mystic. In the end, it’s the only thing that makes sense.
Now, why don’t I call myself New Age, Wiccan, Pagan, Hindu, or Buddhist? It’s because my experience of God has in fact evolved out of the personhood of Christ. I just can’t, however, not question the church experience after meeting with God face first (so to speak).
Isaiah 29:1313 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
The precept of men… they believe and trust in men.
I’m not an innovator. I’m not interested in taking apart the church system and rebuilding it. Even if I could, all I’d manage is to create yet one more of literally tens of thousands of denominations anyway, and what would be the point in that? I’m just a woman, who has ‘seen’ God, and is now seeking my true life’s purpose. Not a career like we’re told is supposed to make us so happy, but what I’m really here for. The whole, “What’s the meaning of life?” kind of thing. I am a Mystic with a gift of Knowing (others would call this clairvoyance) through dreams, visions, but also in flashes of sudden awareness. This too is unquantifiable of course, but that’s ok. No one has to believe it. It just is. This isn’t Peter Pan. No one needs to believe in me or clap their hands or whatever. Really, I’d rather no hand clapping anyway. This isn’t kindergarten. This is life. Good, bad, ugly, or as untenable as it can be.
If anyone in the shadow sea of faces out there is interested in mysticism, I recommend reading Evelyn Underhill’s book called Practical Mysticism. It’s the premier work on the subject, especially for those coming from a Christian perspective.