By Elkin Vanaeon aka Jesse Potter on this day of our Lord and Lady 12/ 11/2007 C.E.
I asked myself - why am I writing this - it is because I love the craft, and know that it is growing and evolving and this is good or else it will become stagnant, without change. Changes to the craft must be slow though and thought over carefully by all those involved, as to what is good or bad to the craft, not by only one person or group. I am a third degree Priest of Wicca, but like so many others - I came from the bindings of monotheistic religions and know how easily the doctrines slide back into the rituals and beliefs of the Wicca. I know also that Wicca has many forms and that some deliberately choose in their circles to bring in the teachings of monotheism... as it is more comfortable for them to include previous teachings from their past. When invoking the lord some perceive this as YHVH, Adonai or Jeshua (Jesus). But in my understanding and love of the Goddess I choose not to be in those circles. It is due to my devotion to the Goddess and the understanding that over time - the knowledge of merging certain teachings can and will slowly bring about the loss of respect of the goddess and priestesses, until they become forgotten and stand alone.
I choose to say "So Be It" or "So Mote It Be" - instead of "Amen." I choose to stand proud and free with my head held high and hands raised and apart - to send or receive love and devotion instead of bowing or kneeling with my hands together as if bound. The God and Goddess I choose to worship are not of domination or subjection, but of "Freedom of Life" - which includes joy as well as sorrow and the strength to face adversity. I also prefer Celtic instead of Hebrew symbols in my worship, but when I do choose to use pantheons of other cultures - I choose those that are true pantheons instead of one that used to be pantheistic.
When the beliefs of a people center on worshipping a god that assimilates and absorbs all earlier gods and goddesses of those people, to become a singular god deemed carrying the masculine and feminine characteristics of man and woman as well the gods, goddesses, and beings of servitude (perceived to be of his creation) - absorbed over time into his greatness (becoming one and all powerful without the need of goddess except what is found within himself) - they are monotheistic or a people not recognizing their pantheistic culture! Those that do recognize and worship the pantheon of their gods and goddesses are acknowledged polytheistic and of a pantheistic culture. To further clarify this is to understand that thefrom the Amorites, Hittites, Canaanites, Sumerians, Chaldeans (Babylonians), Assyrians, ,
This questioning of rituals is not meant to demean nor criticize any traditions or people of the craft. It is simply the questioning of rituals and practices that some priests or priestesses attempt to perform what they perceive as a majick of another's tradition, and that through innocence of knowledge they are using it in the wrong context. I am always curious as the time of origins or beginnings of things in my research - especially as to when a belief or tradition began, so please bear with me in trying to be thorough yet short in my synopsis. There are two parts to this presentation in which I am providing arguments.
Part One - The Spirits of our Loved Ones or Ancestors are not unclean or need banishing!
The first is to the proper respect given to the dead on Samhain or Day of the Dead - in this I become the Speaker of the Dead. The time in which the dead are able to reach across the veil between realms is on Samhain or what is considered the Day of the Dead. It is the time of giving votive offering and the respecting of the ancestors having crossed over. When the Circle is cleansed and properly cast it becomes sacred space. It is then during the naming of names that the spirits of the ancestors or friends are allowed to enter the Circle.
It must be understood this is their night and this means sundown to sunset - not just the few minutes of the ritual time of the circle. This also doesn't mean evil or unclean elements come into the circle - our ancestors and friends are not unclean or evil. If the circle was properly cast such influences cannot crossover unless summoned. Plates and offerings are placed on the altar and during feasting. They don't need to be commanded to be sent back as it is their nature of the realm they normally preside in - that they can only stay for a brief period in our realm. It is with proper respect that the sacred space not be considered unclean due to their presence. They should be treated with the same respect as when we release the elemental quarters by saying - Go if you must.... Stay if you will - they will then leave when the time is right.
To put this in better perspective - many people have not lost a loved one and don't see this as a problem. But if you have and the priest or priestess demand the spirits of our loved ones to leave this earthly plane almost immediately after having named and called them - it not only feels wrong but is disrespectful. Especially when the priest uses the LBRP immediately after the LGR and the passing of chalice and cakes is especially discourteous in stating he is banishing evil or unclean spirits - making those calling as well as those having been called feel tainted. The spirits of loved ones are not Evil or Unclean and in many cases naturally return to places of comfort, felt of their presence at different times, and welcomed!
Part Two - Why the LBRP should not be used in other than full Kabbalah Rituals.
I have been greatly concerned in the use of the Lesser Banishing Ritual being used in non-Kabbalah rituals and how it affects the Circle. I will go into detail step by step, first by establishing the definition of YHVH.
YHVH – the iconograms refers to the tetragrammaton pronounced as Yod Hey Vey Haw sometimes seen as YHWH translated as Yahweh or the English term Jehovah. There are literally seventy seven names or titles that reference YHVH. The name of god was so sacred that the early Jews who began speaking Aramaic understood the law that anyone who pronounces the name of YHWH except by the High Priest in the Tabernacle was considered blaspheming - and must be put to death.
YHVH - represents Man and Woman or more descriptively Man pouring forth into woman, pictured as the masculine vessel being filled with the glory or essence of god, and of him then pouring into the feminine. Even though theologians have attempted to describe YHVH as androgynous - in defining the description - YHVH was declared as masculine he or him and the pouring forth of his greatness and glory was never described as the glory of god filling the feminine vessel to be poured from the feminine to the masculine. Other than the sexual perspective both physically and spiritually this is a very linear attitude demeaning to women, but was typical of the time. This is seen in the history of the Jewish Kabbalah and the rabbinates (rabbin; plural) who were always male until 1837 CE.
Variations of the need for the Feminine side of god in a male oriented culture was seen in the horror of the loss of the Shekinah through acts of anger, defiance, cruelty or perceived as punishment during captivity from the actions of war - when the presence or face of god was seen as turned away from the Tabernacle and his people. In many ways researchers attempted to make the Shekinah neutral or masculine as only being the powerful manifestation of god and even the son of god, but the feminine Shekinah represents:
YHVH is also described in the Kabbalah as the masculine in the left pillar and the feminine in the right pillar - together joined and being in harmony they form the third middle pillar. This could be seen as man and woman joined together in harmony bringing forth the gifts of spirit in all their aspects as the priest and priestess in the LGR - but in Kabbalah it is seen as the masculine and feminine moving to become neutral and androgynous - balanced in nature. It is also seen this way in its singular form as the pillars of masculine and feminine in each man and woman needing to reach balance in all aspects of the Tree of Life, represented as the three pillars within each person.
YHVH was changed to the singular form of he or Elohim (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim - Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity) around the time of Moses in order for his people to speak the figurative sacredness or essence of god without actually saying his name. He was the jealous god who declared there are no other gods greater than I and forbade worship to other gods, demanding a covenant with his people as taught in the Hebrew "Shema." When referring to pagan gods, the term Elohim is usually a numerical plural. For example, the second commandment forbids Jews to worship אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים "other (pl) gods". In this phrase, not only does Elohim have the plural suffix, but it receives a plural adjective אֲחֵרִים other (pl). In other words in the second commandment Elohim is used not as an majestic plural but as a numerical plural denoting multiplicity. The prohibition is not against a specific "other (singular) god" but against any "other (plural) gods".
The teachings of the Kabbalah are based in all ways from the Zohar and the Torah - all further writings are based on these as templates of their tradition. Traditions that are non-Jewish forms of Kabbalah added new material based on Jewish mysticism, but are non-Jewish and still a form of Kabbalah, but not recognized in all communities. The breaking of traditions is necessary at times in order to promote growth and understanding especially when those traditions are closed to only one group of people. This is where the problem begins in that there are huge differences in recognizing the philosophical versus actual acceptance of priestess and goddess roles in the different Orders and Traditions of non-Jewish based Kabbalah (based on Jewish and Egyptian tradition), Hermetic forms of Kabbalah, and the various orthodox and non-orthodox Jewish forms of Kabbalah.
One part of the role priests and priestess perform is in the determining of the influences of evil, whether in action, words, or spirits that must be dealt with within their circles. This is determined by what is each persons views in their beliefs as to what is - in the religious sense good or evil. Philosophically this may only be acts of selfishness by one person or that of a group. The LBRP is a form of ritual majick that is used to meet that criteria within kabbalistic traditions. I have no problems with the LBRP used in full Kabbalah Rituals - kabbalistic priests and priestesses have been trained and understand the balance of the nature of their Art or Craft. The difficulty I have is when non-kabbalistic priests, having learned the LBRP, mix YHVH with other gods and goddesses within sacred space. In Kabbalah the earlier worship of Astarte (Asherah or Ashtoreth - feminine or counter part Astoroth - masculine demon or priests of Ashtoreth) and many other goddesses (accepted and loved within pagan culture) are deemed as being negative in their aspects or considered demons and the energy within the Circle becomes imbalanced, causing a schism. In the pagan goddess song of Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demetre, Kali, and Innana - many goddesses fall into this category. The god names of Pan, Poseidon, Dionysus, Cernunos, Mithras, Loki, and Apollo are considered as being lesser forms of YHVH and to be absorbed within his greatness. There are many people who want to accept the acknowledging that all gods are assimilated into the "One God" - I am not one of them.
The initiate of the LBRP is within the center of the circle and the four Guardian angels surround him - the glory of god is received by the "Me", never the "Us"... in other words by him alone. The banishing then spreads out from the inner circle of angels outwards throughout the participants and space of the outer circle. The Priestess is not with him and does not share in the glory - she is standing outside the perimeter of his sacred space. Make no mistake - I fully approve of the invoking of the Lady in the priestess and the Lord in the priest as well as the joining celebration of the LGR through the Chalice and the Blade! But in this instance it is the not-joining of Priest and Priestess in performing the LBRP that provides the imbalance of energy within the Circle!
I have worked in kabbalistic ritual in which priests and priestesses both participated in the LBRP, the priests invoked the masculine and the priestesses invoked the feminine side of YHVH - the circle was well balanced and the healing and banishing of negative influences worked quite well. But in mixed circles where the priest invokes YHVH and the priestess invokes her chosen goddess - the balance shifts drastically. The LBRP is usually performed by the priest alone in the creating and banishing of sacred space. In having invoked YHVH - the priestess must then work with this deity. Since YHVH claims dominion and recognizes no other god or goddess as being greater - in this aspect he also claims dominion over the priestess! I will point out that ancient references to "a god" or "the gods" included the pagan gods and goddesses of all the different pantheons. The Kabbalists who watch others performing the LBRP within mixed ritual circles fully know this - understanding that in YHVH having been invoked he has dominion over any other deity that may be called or invoked in that circle. The goddess role is now reversed and she is now recognized as being the consort - only if she is recognized positively by YHVH in the spiritual sense.
Philosophically this argument is considered impractical by Kabbalists as the balance of masculine and feminine is supposed to have been balanced by the initiate. Yet this is not seen within the balance of metaphysical and spiritual aspects of the nature of the modern day Kabbalah in their various forms of understanding of YHVH versus the complete history of YHVH with his relationship with his people as having changed from the aspects of the "Fatherly loving god of El" (seen as being his lower aspect) to that of the all powerful and jealous dominating god of YHVH.
For example metaphorically this can be seen in a recent ritual or meditation where the high priest described himself to be the fatherly and forgiving god and commanded the guardian angel with the flaming sword to allow his people to come back to enter his garden of Edam to live there forever. Historically it was the garden of Eden, not Edam, and YHVH casting "Adam (Adam Kan) and Eve" out with the Guardian Angel and his flaming sword blocking the way back. You can change the metaphors of the Pentateuch but you cannot rewrite or change the written or oral history of the Jewish people and the Torah! Metaphorically though it was an excellent example of the differences between the loving forgiving father who patiently wants to help and love his disobedient children versus the angry, strict, and unforgiving father who threw his disobedient children out of his house telling them to never come back.
I will point out that the use of the LBRP is an action of an extreme religious belief, not just a philosophical belief, in the banishing of demons or unclean spirits. Earlier non-Christian Jewish kabbalists used the LBR two or three times a day (morning and evening rituals) to banish distractions and help center as a meditation to allow the spirit of god to help and protect them in their daily lives. It was also a means primarily to perceive and worship god instead of glorifying themselves. There was no need for commanding of angels until Jewish kabbalism split and formed several new orders and traditions due to the need to survive and control magically what was perceived as changes and dissatisfaction by their people. Beginning from the 13th century - wars on earth, already perceived in heaven, with the added expansion of christianized hell with all it's demons (projected from the harsh realities of those earlier times) resulted in the need for commanding and banishing of people as well as angels and demons, mixing the works of Jewish Kabbalah, Enochian magic, Hermetism, Free Masonry, Gnostism, Egyptian, Rosicrucian, and Christian magic (founded on the lesser and greater key of Solomon) into evolved new traditions and forms of modern Kabbalism. To try to understand the differences in a kabbalistic tradition is merely realizing that what one thinks "is supposed to be" in ones own perspective - is sometimes quite different in reality in the balance of philosophy, gentle to extreme religious beliefs, and all else that is found between heaven and hell, literally.
"Hidden Children" are the children of the Goddess - many of whom have suffered death of persecution and been reborn. They are changed through the gnosis of their experience, having knowledge of both realms of death and life and having reordered the essence of their being and able to see with true sight. Sometimes this seeing is of gods thumping their chests proclaiming their greatness or in seeing shaman shaking rattles to chase away evil to heal sprained ankles - each to their own people, time, and tradition. I wonder what our children will say as they grow in our circles and hope they will be strong and having learned joy and not fear or disappointment of our form of wisdom.
In many cases I find myself to be the conscience that observes and asks the questions that others either don't see or feel disrespectful if they do question them. I will repeat again at this time that in preparing this article it was not done to be disrespectful towards any peoples of Traditions or Orders of the Craft. I feel that there is a wonder in learning of each tradition and all forms of majick - that something can always be found to improve oneself in knowledge and experience. I do feel though that mixing certain traditions within rituals is a problem that needs to be addressed. Doing full form ritual of one or the other with participants having full knowledge of the differences between them is not a problem. In the case of Kabbalah, if you are really interested with informed knowledge of a particular tradition, means learning how to do a full kabbalistic ritual - more than just performing the LBRP. I don't think any priest or priestess wants to bring a teachings into a traditional circle saying this will be good for us, without having researched the nature of those teachings, having to answer to those questions and feelings of ill will when those teachings are found to be different in understanding from what they were told. I know where I stand in my thoughts and leave this matter to be decided by the priests, priestesses and elders of the different circles and traditions of the pagan community.
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