Hermes' Thoughts

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Location: Boston, MA, United States

I am a clergyperson and was ordained in 1985 by the National Alliance of Pantheists. I received recognition through Our Lady and Lord of the Trinicrian Rose. I volunteer as a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Boston Living Center. I live with my partner and spouse in a timy apartment in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. I like writing poetry as well an prose. I have been a Witch since 1971. I was born in Binghamton, NY and lived there until 1984 when I moved to Maine.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Doom that can be Ignorance

One of my favorite scenes from Charles Dicken's classic Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, comes near the end of Stave Three: The Second of the Three Spirits, where the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals what is under his robe. They are "two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous and miserable." as Dickens describes them. Scrooge is appalled,
Dickens describes, and has to ask, "Spirit! Are they yours?" To which the Spirit replies that "They are Man's. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both..., but most of all this boy, for on his brow I see that which is written which is Doom." In that one image I see something that still is present today as it was in Dicken's day. This is the danger of ignorance, and what it can breed.
In Dicken's day, it was the careless disregard for their fellow human beings. But today it raises its ugly head in a different way, but in an equally ignorant manner. This is the ignorance of Fundimentalism. The enslavement of the individual to a creed without questioning. It's not just here in these United States but everywhere that others try to supress free expression that might not agree with theirs. It knows no distinction and can be seen in any religion. It is the mentality that "I'm right and what I say is all that is right." It often arises because of the nature of the society where it can grow like a weed. It feeds on social inequities and injustices. It feeds on the blind submission to a person, or a belief, even if that individual may be obviously using them to gain something, power, prestige or influence. Often the poor fall prey to these people because of the poverty in their lives. Not having sufficient money for education and just trying to survive, they will hang on to any hope that might be given to them. They find hope in these people because of the way they present themselves to them. They often say that at such and such a time they will receive some release from the poverty they face if they will only give themselves to them. It's a diabolical bargain. A promise that at some future time they will be released from their poverty to reach a better existance. Often that is promised in the afterlife.
Some, literally, throw their lives away to kill the "others", in hopes that they will receive a reward in the next world. They then kill innocent people to gain something that if they looked at it logically is false. If they really believed in their faith they would see that their deity would condemn them for their acts instead of praise, or reward them.
Then there are those that wish to remain in power and do this by making sure that those that they wish to control never get out of the lowest levels of their society. This is an equally villanous individual, or group. They feed lies to perpetuate their power. "Such and such a group, or individual, is evil because they don't fall into line with how I think." I see it over and over again. And there are those that swallow the lies because it is easier than thinking for themselves. And what is even crueler is the ones that condemn the ones they profess to 'love' and caste them out of their society, because they realize for the first time that this individual is thinking, or feeling differently than they 'should', and is not following them exactly. And what is even sadder is that they can become an institution and perpetruate this for generations. When their followers discover their lies the institution begins to collapse. At that point every effort is made to resist the collapse, even if the collapse can be changed by simply changing with the times.
Much of the oppression of women around the world is by men that want to retain power over them. It occurs on many levels. A husband, or boy-friend that beats his wife or lover, or a group that keeps its women shut up in homes or in obscuring clothing, because that woman might attract the attention of another man and thus lose control of her. We are supposed to be civilized now, but these men act more like beasts than men. There are now inheritance laws that control the transferal of property. Women need not be shackled to men. They have a right to their own property.
Then there are those that fear change itself, for it might bring and end to their power. The Reformation and the following wars were an excellent example of this, where whole nations were ravaged because one power wished to contol all of the world. Then the protesting factions saw themselves in the same light, and their equally ignorant and bias actions ended up with millions of people dying. All out of ignorance.
What is the worst is the deliberate prepetuation of that ignorance by people that do know that what they are doing. They are the worst of all. They knowingly promulgate ignorance so as to maintain their own power.
The best defense is knowledge. Just because some one says that you must do as they do, does not mean that you must do it. Use your divinely given gift of reason. It is divinely given. We have the greatest capacity to think of all the species of this planet. Yet we are libal to be lazy and let someone else do our thinking for us. In so doing we let them control us. Don't let that happen. Just because it's written on some page, doesn't mean it's true. Feel if it is, and use your mind to reason it out.
An excellent and timely example is same sex marriage. The argument has been made that it will destroy family values. That is a bold face lie. How can someone that loves another effect your own values unless there is something wrong already with your values to begin with. Then there is some that says that such relationships are immoral, yet these same people will support an unjust war. Isn't it "Thou shalt not kill."? Besides how can your marriage be threatened unless it is on shakey ground already. That is the same as saying that because your nieghbor has a red house and yours is white, that your house is not as valuable. If your house is run down it's your fault not the red house's. It's an argument that is only out of the lack of reason, and blindly following something that was told to them as being true but is false.
In closing, I would urge you to re-evaluate your beliefs and see if you are being lead by someone else that wants to control you, or by something that someone else said is true and you took it on face value. If what you believe can stand up to your questions or can even not be questioned, then that belief is suspect. Knowledge is the most powerful weapon that ever was created.

Volunteering: A Different Way of Giving

Nearly a week ago, I and my partner, Ursus, were privilaged enough to volunteer in a very special event at the Boston Living Center, a place created as a place of refuge, education, and resources for those with HIV or AIDS. Ursus and I have done this before and have received so much from the doing of this that we did it for the second year in a row. What did we do? Ursus and I were Santa Claus and Mr. Elf, respectively, for the children of the membership.
For us it is not just dressing up and playing Santa Claus and an elf but was a genuine effort to channel the message of Love and acceptance of these children, many of whom might expect little on Christmas morning because of the facts of life facing their parents or even themselves. Santa Claus is a real person to us, not a story book, or poetic character. His nature is magickal and quite real, as real as the love that eminates from him.
It was such a joy to watch the faces of the younger children who have not lost the magic feeling of the season. Their eyes light up when the see Santa. And what of Ursus, he was Santa Claus, and had a special feeling that was only because he let that light, that spirit into him. He also remembers visiting Santa Claus in his childhood. He remembers, and in remembering greeted each child on their level. For the littlest, Santa can be frightening. This big man in a funny red suit with white fur and a funny red fur edged hat, something that is not a usual occurence for that age, and can be frightening. But a little older and they run to him with big smiles and high hopes. In some cases, they are shy. I remember one little boy that wouldn't come over to Santa, so Santa came to him. That was magick.
There even were big kids that you knew that Santa was something that was not real any more to them, but Santa would know that homeboy handshake and the kid would look at him and have a look like 'how did this guy know all about that, "Cool, yah know."' Ursus admits at that moment he knew just the right thing to do because Santa was really there. And it was at those moments that the staff working to give each child a present, would look at Ursus with a look like, "What? How did he do that? How did he know just the right thing to do." Ursus just would exclaim, "Because I am Santa Claus." He never talked down to them.
Now admittedly, Ursus looks the part. He has a belly that needs know padding and has a bushy greying beard, and wears his hair long and braided. But he has a face that is open and friendly and a genial disposition even when he's not feeling well. He often has people open up to him when they won't oppent up to anyone else. So he's half way there already. So looks wise he fits the part.
I, meanwhile, sat at his side with The Book. You know that book. The one that lists "who are naughty and who are good". That's my magick. I was the one that helped to remind Santa who was naughty and who was good. Sometimes they would look at me when they heard what the Book was and have the look like 'Uht oh! I'm in trouble now.' But Santa was forgiving too. "Well, we all have times we fight with our sisters, don't we, but we really don't mean it." He would say and that boy would look at him, and shake his head, and know that he shouldn't, but that he had the forgiveness and understanding of someone that was outside his family, that was a source of pleasure, something that they might not know because of the health of their parent or parents.
I often would watch the parents as they watched their children sitting on Santa's lap, and could see that magick was there too. And some times I could see that that package that Mrs. Claus or one of the Helper Elves would give them might be the only one they would get. At times I would see tears too, expressing emotion of gratitude that there was somelone that could be so nice to their child.
Now I am not trying to convince you that read this that Santa really exists, that's for your own heart to know. What I am trying to portray is the feeling of joy and the honor that we felt in volunteering and using our special talents, to bring joy to someone else. We got the biggest gift of all in just doing that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yule and the Dark

This is a time of growing darkness both in the world of Nature and in those of us in the mundane world. The message of the Yuletide, that period from the Winter Solstice to the Twelfth day following that date, as reconned on the calendar that is in common use, marks the shortest days of the year. Many of us dislike the darkness and the accompaning cold weather. Even some of those feel that this is a time that is not happy for them, a different sort of darkness.
One can not appreciate the Light without knowing the Dark, and just as a truly whole person can not be whole without recognizing that they have both a masculine and feminine side to them, so we all have our darkside as well as the light. The unfortunate thing about this is that we suppress this darker side of ourselves just as we might not to reveal that the gender opposite of our body is also present in us. But yuou need to embrass the darkness within you as much as you need to embrass the light in you. Now by this I am not saying that you necessarily need to act in acordance with you more dark impulses, but am saying that you should recognize that within you that aspect is there.
All sorts of things can creep out of our dark sides. Memories of things that you wished had not happened, or did, or even feel guilty about thinking. You are no alone in this. It would not be human for you not to have some of these. What is difficult is that at this time of year we often feel these things more freqently and/or more intensely. This time of year we are expected to be Merry, to participate with family, friends, and groups and be up and happy. But many of us have unpleasant memories mixed up with the pleasant ones and therefore sometimes feel not quite "with it" in other people's view. These are just one aspect of that internal darkness that is within you, that the darkness (shortness of daylight) can bring out, and it may not be as obvious as all that to us. "It's just the Season..." I've heard. Well, what do you say to yourself about that? Well, and I don't mean you need to say it out loud, you have a right to feel that way. By doing that you are recognizing that this is where you really are at and can learn from that. Once you know where that darkness is in you then the light of the season can come through.
Do you know what the real reason that all the lights are decorating the world at this time? The reason is found in sympathetic magic, when something is done on a smaller scale to promote something on a larger scale, and here the sympathetic magic is in the use of light to act as a stimulus to bring back the days of greater light that we all enjoy more fully. Humans, no matter is you work the third shift are creatures that love the day, have an instinctive fear of the dark. That is in the genes. Our eyes see much to weekly in the dark and because so we fear what we can not see. To our ancestors, this was a good thing, as there are predators that can see much better in the dark than we can and we can fall prey to them. We also fear the unknown for that reason, and often that "unknown" maybe something or someone that is different that we are. By accepting this Dark we can live with it as a fact of life.
We are surrounded and have made our world filled with light through our own ability to creat. We fill our lives with light, to keep out that dark, that unknown, or that known that we would rather not see. So we have become removed from the world of Nature and the cycles of the seasons, but it is still a part of us.
So as the Yuletide comes do not be afraid of that darkness, because you know that with the turning of the tide the light both within and outside in the world will return. The dark is part of the world we live in, so is the light.