When the Life Imperative Insists on Making Yourself Whole … No Matter The Cost

joe-at-coffeeA writer needs to write, never more so then when he has been keeping secrets which eat away at him relentlessly and which demand opening to the light. Knowing the world won’t accept you, the darkness gathers. An explosion is inevitable … with growing openness, a creative explosion.

I never really thought I’d be as brave as I must be to complete my vision for the Brave New Worlds blog. There is now an editorial calendar for this publication which fills me with emotional dread and existential terror. It involves the publication of of four short books on this blog plus supportive material within the next 9 months. It will force me to give you, my reader, the first barely expurgated look at my psychological and spiritual evolution since writing my autobiography, Soulfully Gay, more than 13 years ago. I will need to take you along the topsy-turvy, rolly-polly ride which has unsettled every previous belief (without disjarring them entirely), documented with reams of correspondence and private journals never before seen publicly.

Much of these four books are already written, except for introductory notes and minor editing. So I can see what’s coming. At times they’re grotesque and ugly, scandalous and creepy, wicked and shameful. Some people will never forgive me for revealing the hidden story that I wished I could avoid detailing in public (but I can’t, I’m afraid). But if you have an Integral sensibility and an open heart and mind, perhaps you will find in these upcoming publications a beacon of hope, an illumination into unstudied and misunderstood realms of abnormal psychology and spiritual exuberance, and even a remarkably original vision of how to move humanity forward from this point in our history. It is a vision that goes beyond the problems we face in the manifest realms to the plague confronting unseen places.

Why is this necessary? For starters there’s the sense I’ve felt that after writing a tell-all autobiography at the age of 33/34, that I promptly went into the closet again. My life went on, drama after drama, jail cell after jail cell, psych ward after psych ward, abandoned manuscript after abandoned manuscript, mixed with an indefatigable commitment to spiritual practices that were totally off-the-chart (in other words, often improvised by the seat of my pants in life-threatening situations). To the physicians, I was a mental patient. To my own reckoning, I was a mystic engaged in a radical spiritual practice of witnessing seldom noticed subtle phenomena at the edge of consensual reality. I made friends and enemies in the unseen places, and experienced new dimensions of love and hatred. And out of these observations, I grew adept at a practice of being among the first in a lineage of what I call “World Shamans”: world-walkers without a tribe who are loyal only to the tribe of humanity and,  indeed, all sentient beings (known and unknown) in the Kosmos.

World Shamans? Witnessing psychotic delusions and re-framing them as a hermeneutics of consensual reality’s breakdown? Perhaps this is just so much rationalization on behalf of a bipolar man seeking meaning in the essentially meaningless. But who the hell are you to tell me this persuasively? Have you seen what I have seen? Have you seen reality face crises unlike anything ever told? Have you been contacted by non-human entities through “telepathic” connections, spirits and beasts and demons bearing messages of terrible Armageddon and hope for curing what ills us? Have you found yourself convinced that you have been given prophecies by God … in a world where such message are dismissed as lunatic ravings by haters both within and outside the churches? Were you ever given a special urgent mission for spiritual renewal, only to face utter failure?

And all of this will be explored in Brave New Worlds over the course of the next year … and more. I haven’t mentioned the most scandalous stuff. I need to bear the scandalous stuff too, as much as humanly possible and permitted, so I may be whole again. The secret must be lifted. No one truly knows the burdens I have carried or the scar of secrecy entailed.  And within the months ahead, it will all be open for you to form your reactions.

Good for you, for reading along. I welcome you on this voyage in this website. We have a remarkable nine months ahead of us, if you have the commitment to continue your readership.

Finding Religion 2016, or: “Breaking Up With God Is Hard To Do: Revisited”

james-franco-as-aron-ralston-in-127-hours-427897391In Chapter 1 of Soulfully Gay, “God Is Gay”, there is this moment of negative expression. I, a 33-year-old man, come to grips with the God of Roman Catholicism that I lost as a college freshman at Harvard. Here is the key piece of my earlier writing:

Friday, November 14

Breaking Up with God Is Hard to Do

When I was a boy in grade school, belief in a loving God came easily to me. God was the answer to my question, Where does everything come from? I prayed with confidence that my prayers were always heard.

I sometimes envisioned God as a benevolent teacher and humans as His dutiful pupils. Follow the rules, do your homework, learn your lessons, and when class is dismissed you can frolic forever in the divine playground. The classroom was sometimes stifling, but usually it was a nurturing place of joy and enchanted mysteries.

Being Roman Catholic was an important part of life during my teenage years and early adulthood. The church was where I learned to experience my spirituality—how to pray, how to celebrate the sacred moments of life, and how to cope with death.

As I became aware of my homosexuality, my faith was often a source of internal conflict. Like many others, I saw the Vatican as full of closed-minded hypocrites, and I suspected that many church leaders were themselves closeted, self-hating homosexuals. I had no desire to worship in such a church.

When I was 20 years old, I began to come out of the sexual closet. As a result, continuing to worship in the Catholic Church suddenly became very uncomfortable. However, leaving the church altogether was more than I felt I could handle, so I decided to take a break.

I called the break a “sabbatical,” and it lasted for about 13 years. From time to time, I’d attend mass. But worship always left me feeling fragmented and frustrated, never spiritually whole. When I did connect to authentic feelings, it was usually anger (at the Catholic Church) or sadness, not joy.

Religion was an integral aspect of my life, just as my hands and feet are part of my body. Remember Aron Ralston? He was the 27-year-old hiker who, after being pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder for five days, used a pocketknife to free himself by amputating his own arm.  He told rescuers that he had run out of water and his very survival had depended upon breaking free.

For many religious people, leaving their religion behind can be as challenging a decision as cutting off one’s own arm. It’s not something one does lightly, and many people will avoid the break at all costs. For example, 70 percent of queer Catholics don’t practice their religion but still call themselves Catholic, according to the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census.

That’s an astounding number when you think about it. Imagine if seven Republicans in ten didn’t like most of the policies of George W. Bush but stayed in the party anyway. Or what if seven out of ten members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals didn’t like animals but refused to give up their PETA membership cards?

What’s this about? According to Robert Fuller’s book Spiritual, but Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America, there are three main reasons why people maintain an ambiguous relationship with their religion despite “falling away.” First, they might be motivated to continue a nominal connection to an organized religion because of their family background. Second, they may be concerned that disaffiliating with their religion could harm their social standing. Third, they simply may be timid about making a final break from religion.

It’s primarily this third motivation that stood in my way of leaving the Catholic Church, because for many years I identified my religion with my spirituality. This meant that leaving the Church was almost like breaking up with God.

After over a decade of being lapsed, or “on sabbatical,” this year I finally said goodbye to the Catholic Church. I issued no press releases. I nailed no bulletins on church doors. For the most part I went quietly.

And I began the coming out process all over again. This time it meant telling people that I’m no longer Roman Catholic. The Vatican’s continual attacks on the dignity of gay people were simply more than I wanted to bear.

I respect that there are a number of gays who are staying in the Catholic Church and will continue to work for change. God bless them. I honor the difficult choices they have made, even as I know that my spiritual path is taking me in another direction.

What did leaving the Catholic Church mean to me? I finally realized that I could go no further in my spiritual growth by staying put, one foot in a hostile church and one outside. I wanted a spiritual path that I could step into with both feet. Like the hiker trapped by the boulder, I knew something invaluable was at stake: my survival. My spiritual survival.

Today I don’t have a church, but I envision the universe itself as a loving, nurturing Higher Power and benevolent teacher. And I see myself as a continuing student of spirituality. My faith hasn’t been lost so much as it has gradually grown into something new and more mature.

I predict that one day on my deathbed I will have no regrets about leaving the Catholic Church in 2003. But I will have no peace with the decision, unless I continue to explore my perplexing affinity with the Roman Catholic Church despite its many oh-so-human flaws. I must confess: I haven’t ruled out rejoining the Catholic Church as a regular churchgoing man. The decision I made in 2003 was essential to my spiritual development at the time, but I have begrudgingly acknowledged that it is not necessarily the best choice for me ongoing.

Nor do I feel that it is essential that I rush to rejoin the Catholic communion at this time, I think. I have attended a couple of masses in the last couple of  years, one a memorial service for my Mom. Unfortunately I didn’t see stars, have exploding highs of spiritual delight, or feel serene oneness with the Body of Whatever Christ I  Could. It was a lot of boredom and indifference rather than mystical union. If I choose to enhance my relationship with the Church in the future, I must weigh heavily the opportunity cost: hours of boredom and indifference … if that is in fact what I have ahead of me.

There are stories in the intervening 13 years — 2003 to 2016 — which have colored my present viewpoint. Let me relate one of them. People speak of dark nights of the soul, and mostly this is exaggerated. They don’t really know darkness of the mystic simply because they suffered human pains. They know the Dark Night of the Soul only if they have suffered quasi-human pains, divine pains, the hideous torture of the divine-in-human pain available to every one of us if we submit to our divine nature. So it was in my early 40s when I was in as dark a place as most of you can imagine (unless you have repeatedly been to the Dark Night while in a Bipolar I or schizophrenic episode): I had invented a mystical language which reorganized my consciousness and somehow, unanticipated and tragically, allowed a deluge of demons and devils into my inner world. I won’t bother defining “devil” or “demon” at this time; I’ll save that for a later blog post.

I WAS 43 YEARS OLD, AND MY LIFE COLLAPSED INTO A SINGULARITY OF GRAVITY AND DARKNESS, THE DARK MATTER ITSELF ARRIVING AT SENTIENCE THROUGH ME, AND ALL THE DEVILS AND DEMONS COLLAPSED INTO ME. DEVILS AND ARCH-DEVILS AND UBER-DEVILS CASCADING INTO MY “SOUL SPOT” … THEY CAME, AGAIN AND AGAIN … AND IF I NEEDED TO PRY THEM FROM MY BRAIN BY PUTTING FINGERS IN MY EARS UNTIL I BLED TO REMOVE THEIR IMPLANT, THEN I WOULD DO WHAT I HAD TO DO.

Or so it seemed to me, on every rational inspection of which I was capable. I was twisted and soulless and inhuman and incapable of escaping the heaviness of my consciousness. The devils had me, and they weren’t letting go. They blocked out the light and warmth. I lost hope of ever speaking to God again, for there was no lightness where I was. I was not permitted real human emotions, and I was prohibited from feeling and observing and loving and having pleasure as normal human beings do.

I was captive to a horrible enslavement of mind and body. Who could I trust to help me? Which friends could I contact with the hope that they would respond to me sympathetically and helpfully? Which spiritual leaders could possibly understand my torment and offer a remedy for a malady which began with the adoption of a magical alphabet which they did not know?

In this dark state, I turned to the Roman Catholic Church to see if I could find an exorcist to heal me. I won’t tell the full story today, except to note that I tried repeatedly and found mercy and rites of forgiveness and love in my time of need. But I found neither understanding nor, ultimately, rites of exorcism. Perhaps withholding exorcism was a bit of passive-aggressive posturing on God’s part, if I interpret the story with a sense of humor. I had said fuck you to the Church as a 33-year-old. When I pursued my path of spirituality and it led me to a devil-infested depression, was it up to the Church to heal me? No. I had brought the demonic possession onto myself, using my own wits, and if I was going to escape the Kosmic Horror myself, I was going to have to keep working at it, on my own lights, pulling myself by my own bootstraps.

I haven’t reconnected with the Catholic Church any more than I have said, but I have found religion. The idea that the universe itself is a Benevolent Higher Power seems extremely naive. According to NASA, “roughly 68% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the Universe.”

If we are going to speak of the Universe as a Higher Power, then it must be the Universe that is 95% unknown to us, full of darkness and uncertainty and chaos, seemingly oblivious to the cares of human beings. Is that really a Higher Power worth believing in? I’m not sure. (There’s a longer story here I must save for a later date. It involves the testing of this theory of the Universe itself as Benevolent. And I must say my tests are inconclusive, but they led me to introduce the “Ro” as the Arch-Enemy in The Kalendar series).

But I do know this: If we are to live through this evolutionary moment as a civilization with the greatest possibility of survival, then we must not throw out the old gods. We must evolve with them, and let the gods evolve. Let the gods tell us how to understand our relationship to the higher matters and understand the lower matters in their underworldly ways. We must let God speak again.

We can figure it out. We need the gods/Gods/God of All. We cannot dispense with them lest we eschew the greatest psychological and spiritual achievements of our species in favor of a stubborn ego in the wilderness. We might find more young people collapsing into demonic decay, nihilism of different stripes, and worse. What is worse than nihilism? I have tasted it, I have more to tell you about it at the right time.

Breaking up with God is hard to do. Breaking up with the devil is hard to do, too, when you’re addicted to egoic individualism or other maladies of the spirit which still need God as the remedy.

 

Let Me Reintroduce Myself.

joeperez2016“Brave New Words” is a fitting title for this new, highly experimental weblog.

I will need to muster my courage to bear words on subjects that I have never seen others write about, especially words about the intersection of creativity, mysticism, and madness.

You see, I am a mystic. And I have been diagnosed with Bipolar I, a psychiatric condition which has given me access to extraordinary and unbelievable states of mind, to say the very least. I am going to write about stuff that will range from neuron-melting horror to exquisite love and feelings/situations for which we lack a name. Forgive me if I am vague at this time about what I want to write about. I am intentionally NOT going to say what I want to. You need to get to know me better first, and if you can handle my earlier journal entries, then maybe just maybe you can handle the rest to come, psychosis-fueled nightmares and benedictions alike.

I am a man with a map. Several maps. Maybe too many maps. The maps I’m talking about don’t describe the physical geography and place names; they describe the inner/outer worlds that I’ve encountered, what I found there, and how I got myself home (or at least the place I call home). Every map has gone through numerous inner revisions so that I can use them in a practical way. A collection of maps called AQAL have been extraordinarily useful to me — they are a key part of Integral Theory as formulated by Ken Wilber — and on this account I call myself “Integral” or an “Integralist”. I have also been much influenced by the maps of StAGES — a key part of the Integral theory, correlated with AQAL, which has been formulated by Terri O’Fallon and other folks.)

But I have added some maps which are closer to the breadcrumbs in the story of Hansel and Gretel. Hard to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but in a pinch they might lead you out of danger and darkness back to a better place. These are magical maps, the most significant is the Lingua-U Alphabet. It is a comprehensive schema for finding the places where meaning fails and where meta-meaning arises … if that is the best word for it, and it isn’t, but it will do. There are other maps as well including the Bear-Yak Zodiac, the Stone-Star Tarot, the Kalendar, the New Kosmology, the New Atlas, etc. (I have coined the phrase Integral Magick to describe the maps I have added to AQAL and StAGES, so if you want to use them yourself you can call them by a proper name.

There are quite a few reasons I have put off writing this journal. I don’t know in advance what I will be willing to tell you. There’s some really fucked up shit, as they say. Getting in my way: suffering.

I know that in the course of the past 16 years I have suffered tremendously in situations involving multiple arrests and incarceration, multiple involuntary stays in psychiatric wards and one voluntary commitment, more than a few public displays of outrageous insanity (and not just screeds on my Facebook wall), and much of this trauma has not been fully healed. My life is damaged in ways you cannot understand unless you have walked in my shoes or, just maybe, if you read my words and expand your horizons to allow yourself to embrace more fullness than you have heretofore. If you do so, you can see me, see where I’ve been hiding out in words and silences, never telling you who I am (or Who I Am, if I may speak about the essences beyond the persona), except through innuendo and supposition.

I want to write this journal, but slowly, because as I get closer to the truth, I am more vulnerable. My traumas stop me with great fear. They are darker and more twisted and complex than you know … so I will not write directly about the unhealed wounds until I am ready. I have broken and imperfect therapeutic options available to me. One of them is writing, especially stream of consciousness writing, as a form of catharsis. So writing a weblog is one of my routes for finding healing.

That’s something I might have said at the outset of my spiritual autobiography Soulfully Gay, which is a shell game of persona and Supreme Identity, twisting and turning to a surprise ending. Too many people never got the point (perhaps they gave up before the final chapter). Published about 9 years ago by Integral Books/Shambhala, it ought to serve as a warning. I don’t tell stories in a linear fashion (not even the book’s Introduction, which leads to an ellipses which preserves the narrative’s surprise. The book ends ambiguously, unless you know the actual details of fact which were left out, then it becomes clear. For all these past years I’ve kept the book’s secret climax pretty well. Only once did I spill the beans. I think I’ll take a stab at spoiling the ending for everyone once and for all, or at least giving the author’s interpretation. Look for a post in the days ahead which will confirm your suspicions, if you’ve been following my work at all … and maybe knock your socks off, I don’t know, or unleash volatile or even hostile reactions in you. I don’t know exactly why I’ve left the book’s final chapter without commentary even to this day, but I feel fear. I must step through it soon, and again and again for additional chapters of my unwritten autobiography, until I can bring everyone up to the present. And to fuller presence.

I can’t promise you that reading my journal will be a treat in great literature. A glorious trainwreck, quite possibly! I don’t want to “sell you” at all at becoming a reader. You might find this interesting or you might have different work to do in your life. But come along if you are willing. And if you want to dip into the archive of my writings over the past 11 years, I’ve kept some posts from my old blogs online, so feel free to explore. I promise you terror … and laughs … and holy fuck moments. And maybe enlightenment too. That’s a secret I’m not yet ready to spoil.

Enlightenment is a secret. That’s what they ought to say, everyone who claims to know something about it. It’s not for common knowledge, for it can be a holy hellhole in which no one can escape with the truth. At least that’s my opinion today. It could change if writing and therapy and love have a way of evolving my perceptions.

Christian prophetic mysticism and shamanism: on Drew Jacob’s quest to meet the gods

Photo Credit: Lost in France by JinterwasDrew Jacob, a self-described priest of many gods, recently told his friends that he will be walking across two continents to meet the gods. They reacted a little skeptically, asking him, “What do you mean, you’re going to meet the gods?”

In “What Do You Mean, Meet the Gods?” on the Rogue Priest blog, he says:

The sacred stories paint a picture of the world that is rich with myth and miracle, as if every action on earth carries the echo of a divine voice. Reading the Odyssey or the Táin, you get the sense that at any moment you could stumble into one of the gods, face-to-face, in the flesh.

Even more promising is the story of Gilgamesh: a tireless and lengthy journey into parts unknown in search of something that may not exist. In Gilgamesh’s case it was a cure for death; for me it’s meeting the gods. Only after years of relentless wandering did Gilgamesh find a way to cross into the gods’ world, to approach their sanctuary and find what he sought.

I like the Gilgamesh model. It refuses to believe that prayer or shamanism or metaphor are the very best access to the divine that we can ever have. It exhibits faith, not in the gods themselves, but in the spirit of heroic determination to accomplish any task, however impossible it may seem.

I don’t know if I will ever meet the gods. I don’t know if they exist beyond the fringe of the human psyche. I don’t know if they hover behind the apparent world, unseen but intimately involved in all we do.

But if they are there I’m coming to meet them. There is no force on earth that can stop me. You’ve been forewarned, gods, and if you need to challenge me along the way, then bring it. Bring it.

Read the whole post.

Drew Jacob’s reflections inspire me to take a moment to discuss the relationship between monotheism and polytheism. A quest or a pilgrimage in the service of a priestly vocation is one that commands respect. And in my worldview, there is room for all of that — the gods, the forces of magic, the rites of sacrifice and purification, and reverence for Nature. All of that and more.

The ways in which an Integral Christian worldview harmonize with a shamanic vocation are legion. Here are three themes of importance:

1. The divinized Earth, the sacred cosmos

There is no place in the universe in which all that is divine does not dwell. In the Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible, of course there is a division between Creator and Creation, and for thousands of years there have been a variety of ways of understanding the relationship between the two.

Christianity teaches that God is self-sacrificial Love, and this Love manifests in history by his taking on the form of a human being in order to heal the split between Creator and Creator and usher in a new world in which this division is overthrown, the Kingdom of Heaven. And so with the principle of Incarnation — God becoming a flesh and blood person — there is an understanding that history is the way Creator and Creation are ultimately unified into a divinized world.

I experience a relationship with the Godhead as an evolving unfolding of greater degrees of harmony, unification, and integration in every dimension of life. But our experience of life is also one of apparent brokenness and suffering and mortality, a quest to be reunited with Spirit that will not be fulfilled until the end of all things.

In nature-based spiritualities, there is often a sacredness that transcends distinctions between the immanent and transcendent. Nature-centered views usually honor both the spirit world and the material world. In the figure of the shaman, the mediator between the spirit’s domain and mundane world, is a figure representing the union between the worlds. The vocation to shaman is not unlike the vocation to Christ-like consciousness in this respect.

2. The prophet Christian consciousness

I’ve recently begun to explain my understanding of a prophetic Christian consciousness, and want to highlight that the indwelling of Spirit is not merely an abstract dogma or personal belief, but for the prophetic mystic it is an experience of encountering the Trinity as the emergence of a Trinitarian inner life.

Drew writes that he does not know if the gods are inside his brain or in a space beyond the human psyche. I would invite anyone puzzling over such a quandry to inquire whether the language of belief, “I will meet the gods,” is a statement about the brain or cosmology or something that includes and transcends both of those places.

We can change our worldview by changing our language, right down to our pronouns and verb tenses. “I will meet the gods” is different than “We are meeting the gods,” even though both may be uttered by the same person to refer to a forthcoming pilgrimage.

Christianity teaches that Logos is Christ, which is divinity (as John 1:1 puts it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”) but it is not necessary to practice Christianity to understand that the Divine is immediately accessible through words. One only needs to believe that God is everywhere and in all things, so certainly God must be in our language.

As I know God, God speaks through me as “I AM.” (Exodous 3:14) To the extent that I am not merely “self” but Divine, every word from my mouth and every word I write occurs as an outpouring of the holy.

With that in mind, my impulse to be impeccable in thought and speech (to use a phrase similar to Don Miguel Ruiz) is central to my spiritual practice. When I inevitably find myself speaking something in conflict with what I believe God would say, this is a moment of awareness to redirect and refocus my mindfulness of language from the ego and back to God’s voice.

As I know Jesus Christ, Christ speaks to me as “You are.” When I find myself speaking not as God, I hear the voice of Christ engaging me to return to mindfulness of my Supreme identity.

If I think, “I really hate bugs,” then Christ might say, “Do you really hate?” And if I think, “I am lonely,” then Christ might say, “You are not alone. I am with you always, My Beloved.”

And if I ask Christ who I am, He might say, “You are I AM, Yahweh, God Almighty … only to the extent that you are also fully in harmony with Me. It is Our Love, and Our Friendship, which is your path to transformation from a Fallen state (“i am”) to a Risen state (“I AM.”) And you can find Me not only in you, but in all beings.”

As I know the Holy Spirit, Spirit speaks through me as “We are.” When I return from a Risen state to a Fallen state of consciousness, I forget that I am a “We.” The conventions of our language make it difficult to engage in everyday discourse using the first-person plural pronoun.

If you are alone and someone asks how you are doing, the answer “We are fine,” is rather odd. And yet within consciousness there are these three Voices of the Divine accessible to all.

The language to intercourse with the Godhead is accessible to all, but few people outside of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions have much motivation to understand a calling to prophetic mysticism … and without expecting to find God in language, the Logos, Christ, Revelation … there is little incentive to encounter God so intimately in language.

In sum, we are the Trinity, every one of us … except our speech is Fallen, our ability to pray in the Divine Tongue is largely lost, and thus we have forgotten so much of our inner sacredness. The prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam knew all about this. But too often they thought they were special, and others projected their own ability to communicate with the Divine upon them, failing to understand that the source of holiness which speaks through the prophets can just as easily speak through them.

3. One god or many?

From my view, the parallels between Christian prophetic mysticism and shamanism become increasingly blurry, for both approaches look for the Divine to communicate with us.  So often have Christian contemplatives sought union with God in silence and wordless rituals that much of the power of prophetic mysticism has been lost.

The Logos has fallen out of favor, replaced with Eastern-inspired silent meditations. And yet within a resurgent Christian mysticism of sound symbols, there are new ways to begin exploring the relationship between all faiths … if the explorations are understood with an Integral embrace.

Polytheistic religions have proclaimed the existence of many gods. I’m not sure how many of today’s neo-pagans literally believe in the existence of those gods, or if they really think of them as psychological archetypes, symbols, or metaphors of humanistic truths. Drew has embraced a mystic’s path: the radical openness to discovery of the unknown, a quest to meet the gods.

Let me say that I would not be surprised if he meets the gods he wishes to meet. The gods speak not only in words, but in whispers of wind through trees, movements of the stars in the heavens, and treks to ancient sacred temples.

Polytheism as a belief system is certainly different from monotheism. But the experience of polytheistic sacred consciousness is not necessarily so different from the experience of a Christian prophetic mystic consciousness.  Just as our psychic world contains a multiplicity of subpersonalities, each of which can be accessed through a practice of relationship, the pagan worldview contains gods which can be encountered through invocation.

Drew may not find it useful to talk to God, Christ, and Spirit if those aren’t the gods with which he has relationships. But his gods too could be as real as mine, I am sure, to the extent that he cultivates the relationship with his gods with the seriousness with which he invests his most precious relationships to human beings and the natural world.

Gilgamesh communicated with the gods who sent him on his quest for eternal life, but his quest did not work out so well despite his spirit of heroic determination. I wonder how the story might have ended differently if King Gilgamesh had journeyed to the place of indwelling timelessness within himself, the “I-AM-ness,” the “You-AREness,” and “We-AREness” present at every moment.