Forbidden Tree

We are witnessing the end of an era. The economies that spawned the illusion of a brave new world are in shambles as currencies become little more than IOU slips. The adherents to religions that promised order and peace are wearing the Emperor’s clothes in ever-increasing numbers as their actions perpetuate instability, ignorance, and market driven warfare, while others splinter into hate-groups of all flags, colors, and creeds. Journalists are arrested in the West and beheaded in the Middle-East. Climate change is a rocketing up and down to a now-obvious degree that the United States government has deemed it a threat to national security. In some parts of the world, smoke from bullets and bombs are as familiar as Starbucks coffee-filled breezes are in others. We live in the Age of Apocalypse. For myself and others, this is a self-evident reality. Its the world into which I was born.

Now, for some background-

I was raised in Fundamentalist Evangelical Southern Baptist circles that preached self-perpetuated ignorance, hate, homophobia, and self-aggrandizement all in the name of a Jewish Rabbi who never wrote a single word. From age 3, I was mentally water-boarded with the Protestant Bible and politically convenient hard lines. I was taught catch-a-soul argument techniques as though they were Anglo-Saxon Jihad sleight of hand. I was drilled in biased history and drafted into isolationist the-world’s-out-to-get-you-propaganda saturated groupthink. I was trained in apologetics and street preaching and was in leadership over others learning the same. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch the TV show “Care Bears” because there was “magic” in it – because that’s the devil’s playground, you see. I was trained in how to approach someone from any world view and undermine their paradigm in such a way that, via fear, they would come crawling to my appropriated Hebrew-teacher-zombie-god and cast off their entire identity by closing their eyes and spitting some English words to our imaginary friends in the sky, earning them a cloud castle and ironclad heart-flagellating self-esteem via psycho-emotional fire insurance.

And we were very proud of this.

But I never felt whole. Behind the scenes, congregants were then and still are living in chronic depression, perpetuating multi-generational cycles of abuse, and employing shame and guilt as weapons of mass manipulation. Pleasure and pride of any kind were then and still are shot down as though they are stolen goods. Sex was simply how one made more soldiers and was certainly not to be enjoyed or talked about. This is reminiscent of so many Taliban/Hammas-esque training videos, but I was entrenched in this war-mongering in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Psycho-terrorism is an American tradition. Daniel Ashley Pierce’s chilling coming out video is sadly not an isolated incident. It simply displays what Queer folk have suffered through for centuries. In the name of “god,” people can justify any kind of behavior.

In my mid-teens, as I watched my peers’ and parents’ lives being torn apart by interpersonal troubles for which the “Good Book” supposedly had solutions, it began to dawn on me that something truly vital within my core had been battered and forced into arctic hibernation. I began to study the logic structure found within contemporary and classical biblical exegesis and deduced that, according to the Protestant Bible in its original languages, this Sky-Father ever-jealous bedouin tribal war deity named YHVH simply picked you before you were born for its team and if it didn’t, you were just out of luck and wouldn’t ever understand why you weren’t special anyway. The rest was theory and posturing.

Scholars can/will/have/do debate this until the cows come home and go back again, but I was done. The formulas didn’t compute for me. The Yeshua Mothership was 2,000 years late and people were hurting and hurting badly while the only connection I felt was a group-high from altar-call concerts. Switch out the MC, band, and venue, and the resulting happy-togetherness-feels would be the same. Mental illness and buried abuse was rampant and no one did a damned thing. There were neutral zones and well-intentioned folks scattered within, to be sure, and to this day I’m thankful for their friendship. However, it just didn’t cut it and I decided to go back to the one thing that never lied to me – my gut. My Sacred Gut – my Holy Fire within that didn’t need permission from anyone I could or couldn’t see to tell me the truth – I made it my Home once again. One by one, the scales fell from my eyes.

My Life began to be turned inside out and upside down, but for the better this time. For me, it was simply right side out! I found peace. I found accepting friends. I found family that didn’t hurt, shame, or try to control me because they “loved” me. I found comrades who affirmed my sovereignty over my own life, my own body, my own truth, my own heart, my own mind – my own Self. I began to understand what Home actually felt like, that it was a place where I felt energized and healed instead of hacked apart. I began to come back to life. It was then that I realized what made all the followers of the Hebrew Slave King truly tremble. I realized that I was raised in a mirror world that employed fear and pretense as its bricks and mortar.

By following my Inner Fire, I found Magic. I found Light. I found Holy Darkness. I found Beauty. I found Power. I found Love. I found Holy Lust. I found Ecstasy. I found…

Freedom.

I set sail. Igniting one’s Will and harnessing the powers of Transformation to make change in accordance with one’s will – reshaping the world around you – is very dangerous. It is dangerous because it works. The Earth is alive and we are part of it. I began to see in color for the first time.

I found Neopaganism in the NY Metro Area and entered Wiccan circles, learning from those more experienced than myself and comparing notes with others. I read all the books, from fluffy to sharp. I found and continue to find immense healing. I found balance. I no longer held my upbringing as the cause of any of my actions. My pure intuition directed my actions and I found a sense peace within myself that trumps any attempt to manipulate me via guilt, fear, or shame. Those tactics are now simply irrelevant to me when I stand in the sovereignty of my own spirit.

However, I’ve encountered a problem. To those who never spent time among busy-bodied back-biting pew-humpers, ahem…I mean malicious congregants of the milk-religions, it is very easy to not notice when one is shaming or peer-policing a fellow neopagan comrade due to inflated ego. Neopagan Reconstructionists traditions are, truth be told, less than two centuries old and were only note-worthy once put down on paper by a handful of individuals who, in my opinion, were self-aggrandizing and geek-flagging enough to pen things in the fashion that they, themselves, enjoyed and experimented with things being done! But before angry bedazzled wands get shaken in my direction, let me also say that without such boldness, none of us would enjoy electric light, flushing toilets, console gaming, contraception, rapid transit, rock concerts, or the internet – to name a few diabolical luxuries.

– A note on cultural appropriation – Make no mistake, I honor and respect traditions and lineages. I respect vocal deities by seeking them via the cultures from which they hail, honoring them in way they prefer to be honored, and, when possible, through the people initiated into their inner sanctums. I’m an artist and tend to find mathematics incredibly – ahem – taxing. So if someone who doesn’t know me and doesn’t think to ask my friends and intimates what I’d like as a gift and (since they’re so incredibly knowledgable) should happen to ignorantly gift me a “History of Algebra” textbook in an attempt to win my favor, then you bet your Banana Republics that I’d smite their post-imperial hind-parts and prohibit their name from spoken in my presence ever again. In my opinion, so it is with spiritual communities of differing ancestry. When in doubt, show respect.

Digressing, nothing infuriates me more than witches and neopagans who are self-described as liberated, wild, and Nature-based who, because of a need to control, will “correct” an ecstatic or intuitively performed piece of a public or group ritual because “that’s just not how its done.” For me, this is ignorance with boots on. To be blunt, the only reason anyone thinks they know “how its done” is because someone once-upon-a-time made up their own tradition and their peers liked it enough to repeat it. Historically, the individuals in question tended to be controversial.

Through coven initiation, for those who give a damn, I have Alexandrian Wicca ancestry. It makes little difference to me, because, for me, I do not identify as Wiccan. I am a Witcher – one who takes action informed by sound wisdom. I solve problems. I am not interested in impressing anyone with names and titles. Those who can feel will know me by how my energy affects them. The rest is simply me working to be more evolved and greater than I was yesterday. I call myself, “Luciferian.”

Within my Heart, I find kinship with the energy that radiates light in the darkness – that force that questions the status quo, who refuses to bow or splinter the gnosis that burns deeply within. The Slave King is no king of mine. I was born an emanation of illumination: beautiful, natural, whole. There is a teaching that we are all born broken and disgusting and I call it what I believe it to be: a greedy lie custom-built to oppress the many so the few may rule unquestioned. When trusted, honored, and appropriately appreciated, success-oriented people are simply more productive and exceed expectations. Fear-based training  and structure simply does not gross as much healthy profit as does a team-based affirmational environment.

Simply put, though I believe we all have lessons to learn and grow through trial and error, at our core, we all aspire to sustainability and innovation. Our animal survival mechanisms glitch this process when our health and safety are comprised. This is not “sin.” It is simply a manifestation of the fact that we are miniature stars exploding our compressed divine energy sourced from dead suns over the course of our lifetimes. I find this beautiful and as it should be. We are star dust and as such are kindred with the entire cosmos. I am Light and Darkness. I stand with they who bring the Light in a majestic dance of Life and Death – the Dance of Love. I have eaten of the Forbidden Tree and have found what so many fear: Home.