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Monday, August 22, 2016

My Polyamorous Relationship with Jesus

Something that has come to mind frequently is the place of Christ in my identity as a Gnostic. I'm a hard polytheist, I believe in various gods and spirits as actual beings. In the minds of most people, believing in Jesus and believing in Dionysos, or Othin, or Lugh don't go together.

I know some Gnostics who are pretty ecumenical in their inclusion of various divinities in their work because they don't believe in them as actual personal divine beings.

I know some Gnostics that don't believe that Gnosticism has a Christian component, and that particular symbol set doesn't need to be part of their Gnosticism, or if it is, they don't need to acknowledge it as more than a symbol even if they believe in other gods.

That can work for them, and that's great.

But I definitely confuse my friends, because I think most of them know I'm a hardline polytheist. On the flip side, I'm pretty borderline Catholic.  I had an OTO friend admit that he initially thought I was a secret Catholic priest sent to spy on the OTO. When I celebrated the marriage of my best friend and his wife several Roman Catholics came up to tell me how Catholic my celebration of the ceremony felt. I have a major hard on for the Jesuits, and kind of style some of my thinking after theirs, and I frequently read works by Jesuits to develop myself as a priest. I've had Catholics tell me that I'm so Catholic they don't understand why I don't just convert.

My friends and I occasionally take pause when my answers to things that come up sound more like a Catholic priest than an EGC priest or a sorcerer.

Which kind of gets to why I don't convert. I hold Gnostic views on religion. I practice magic. I believe in other gods. I'm ok with people having whatever flexibility or direction they need in their sexuality. So I probably wouldn't make it as a standard Catholic. Because I'm not one.

I had a dream once where I had to perform an exorcism, and the spirits taunted me that I couldn't do it because I wasn't a Christian and was trying to exorcise them as a Catholic priest would.

When I woke up, it definitely left me with questions about what I believe and how it all fits.

Similarly when I ask my Johannite friends about their church and coming to check out what they've got going on, I ask myself about how their priests seem to navigate being part of a Christian Gnostic tradition and then also working with Pagan Gods and non-Christian sorcery, and I ask myself about how I think and feel about such creative theology.

Because I'm cool with the idea of running around like a Valentinian and bringing the Living Gnosis to mainstream Christians and Gnostics alike, but at the same time I'm a Thelemite, I organize some of the best Dionysian spiritual revelries, and I like to hang in the woods with Druids and chat up Odin from time to time.

At the same time, I do believe in Christ as a divine being equally with the other gods. Recognizing and accepting that was pretty easy and kind of nullified the need to question stuff. But I've run into a lot of people who do question how that works, and whether or not it's something that works for them, or if it was going to how it would work.

Recently there was some joking online about being married to Christ, but it being difficult for people who want to commit to other gods too. Which is where the title of this post came from.

The thing is, from a Gnostic perspective it's really not that weird. The Living Jesus of Gnosticism isn't the singular son of a singular divine being, sharing the same divine presence in three persons. Christ is part of an overall collective of divine beings. These divine beings all stem from a non-personal divinity not far off from what we see as the One and the Good in Neoplatonism. Depending upon the nature of the divine being they might exist within different levels of emanation from the source, they might have different natures or functions or powers as well. Christ is just one of many whose purpose was to come deliver a message to enlighten the world, but he's not necessarily the principle deity or the one that people will necessarily need to work with most of the time. In fact, the whole message of the Gnostic Christ is that his message makes you the same as him. Once you're the same as him, the real work involves the other gods and spirits with whom you would interact as you enlighten yourself and enlighten the world.

From my perspective, as I thought about it more, my polyamorous relationship with Jesus is one in which he's not my primary. I dig the places he hangs out, and I like some of his lifestyle choices, but not all of them. There are other gods with whom I am closer, and with whom I've spent more time and built deeper connections. Still, as a kid I had a really deep relationship with Christ, even as I began learning magic. As a teenager when I got deeper into magic and paganism I stayed further from Christianity until I was an adult and realized that religious experience can draw from a lot of sources to inform each other and those sources don't have to disrupt each other.

I've always believed that vocation is a calling towards a universal service to the spirituality of mankind. I've always believed that religion isn't necessarily about a particular religious expression so much as the overarching divine harmony expressed through the prism of man's thoughts and actions. With that being the case, human religion is in my mind a swirling interlocking series of expressions that can speak to us in different ways for different purposes, each answering different questions of life and experience.

So yeah, Jesus and I can be bros swept up in a tenuous homosocial love affair, which bolsters my ability to call upon the divine names associated with him as I engage in Jewish and Christian sorcery, or to find meaning in the mystical explorations of God through NeoPlatonic, Gnostic, and Hermetic models which influenced the development of Christian thought. At the same time, I can help hold off the twilight of the Gods through living as a good traveling partner and following the virtues and behaviors the Gods want for man, and enjoy community within the traditional folk cultures which call to me. I can be equally swept up with the gods of my ancestors, or whatever other gods I encounter and groove with.