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“Decide for yourself whether the story that your cultural trance-forms have put you in is a story you really want to live in. If it is not, then wake up out of that story, step off the page, and begin to think about telling another, but try to tell this story in a new way.” – Dr Jeffrey Kripal: The Super Natural. Co-authored by Whitley Streiber.
Today, cultural trance forms in the context of spiritual and religious interpretations are also the rules and regulations imposed upon individuals and societies. They are the ‘sacred’ texts and supposed ‘correct’ languages and pronunciations a person is compelled to follow in order to pray or commune with a specific ancestral deity. In other words, they are the control mechanisms used by traditions in order to prohibit expression and diversification, personal expression and exploration.If we begin to question the role of priests and any idea of apostolic succession in the first place, Dr. Kripal’s suggestion seems very useful. Spiritual adherents and seekers, from the Abrahamic faiths to the Pagan and esoteric communities, might ask why it is required to speak someone else’s words in order to commune with Gods, and why they must follow the rules decided upon by another person in the first place. After all, our conception of the physical world is entirely dependent upon our individual bodily sensibilities, so wouldn’t our individual consciousnesses’ also be uniquely ours to begin with? The synaptic bridges that reach out to whatever lies beyond the natural and material paradigm are unique from one human being to another. We all experience reality in a completely different way.
What language should your particular God or Goddess speak, then? Is it the language of your tribe and your ancestors? If so, are we to determine that the Gods and Goddesses of your land had a different language before your ancestors arrived there?
Or, could it be that, somehow, the evolution of each language in the same country at different historical times is improved upon by the Gods themselves?
This would mean that immortal and eternal deities were wrong the first time. It would also mean that they required our invention and further improvement of letters and symbols in order to communicate. Not just with us, but with each other, if most of the world’s religious texts are to be believed.
If an ‘official’ or traditional priest or priestess is going to insist that we must speak to the Gods in a specific language and dialect then surely we have the right to speculate on other forms of communication that lie outside our current physical incarnation and methodology, which might work equally as well. If this is not the case, are we really saying that the ideal and only correct way was one decided upon generations ago and there is no further room for improvement?
Another complication with historical control systems, created and maintained by ‘authentic authorities,’ is that many of the same letters are used in completely different alphabets and languages throughout the world and in different spiritual paths, but often pronounced in different ways. I would also imagine that an immortal being is not restricted by state borders or the lines we draw upon paper maps to distinguish where one form of language and culture should start and another end. Simply put, there is no right way or wrong way to pray when it comes to your intent. As Dr. Kripal argues, maybe it is time to side-step any judgmental cultural overlay, which has no infallible supernatural authority in the first place.
If we allow ourselves to pull away from a short-term, physical-universe perspective, what makes us think that any particular planet means much to Gods and Goddesses existing outside of space and time, anyway, never mind mere countries? A land mass is also likely to change many times through topological cycles created by environmental conditions, ice ages, and natural catastrophe. The rise and fall of sea levels can turn a mountainous country into a string of islands or submerge a low lying coastal-shelf completely. Do non-material, ever-living beings come and go because of this?
“The two main reasons we find practical and folk magic inside every single religion on earth is firstly because it predates them all and secondly-almost by definition-because it suspiciously regards devotionalism as an irrelevance.” – Gordon White from Pieces of Eight: Chaos Magic Essays and Enchantments.
Before we try to integrate the physical limitations of the material realm into concepts of higher dimensions and timelessness, we should first take a closer look at the construction of language itself. Very simply, letters allow for the written transfer and descriptions of vocal sounds. Spoken words are vibrations that resonate at particular frequencies and are shaped by the various noises made by our throats, tongue, mouth and teeth.But communication itself is much more than this. An emotion or state of mind can also be conveyed by a gesture, by a facial expression, and by physical action. Certain animals and insects even express feelings and conditions through colour and scent. In these instances, chemical reactions and combinations take the place of letters. They are also just as effective. Perhaps even human beings communicate using additional signals outside of our currently measurable perceptions.
Within many traditions, the spiritual concept of correspondence allows for a relationship between one thing and another. It can be described in the maxim ‘as above, so below’ and can often appear, for example, within the idea of a landmark representing a particular trait of a God or Goddess. The cycle of nature, from the emergence of a new bud on a tree, to the fall and decay of a rusty leaf, becomes illustrative of this rule of physical life; the correspondence reflecting a fundamental lesson of the Gods.
These different seasonal traits often become the personalities of individual deities and yet this same expression becomes characteristic of completely different pantheons in various parts of the world. The flora may change but communication of the deeper insight remains the same. A wider perspective can recontextualise the borders of cultural trance forms if we are courageous enough to let our own previously learned incarnations go, or at the very least accept that different forms can express the same fundamental wisdom.
Supposed defective pronunciation is also often a matter of discussion and argument in various faiths and traditions. A mispronounced prayer or a skipped word in a spell can, according to some, render a ritual profane and meaningless. By breaking down and redefining what a language represents we can examine exactly where the flaw lies in this way of thinking. Simply put, there is no defective pronunciation when it comes to your personal interaction with something that presumably existed long before any one religion, tribe or culture tried to claim it as their own. The key to all prayer and the desire to engage with higher consciousness is intention more than it is regulation.
Whatever plea or cause brings someone to a point where they feel they need to engage with forms beyond the physical domain is based upon distinct circumstances and desires. It is formed by a personal world experience and manifested through a metabolism that determines the borders of an individual’s sense range and their ability to interact with what Rudolf Steiner labelled “Higher Worlds.” Our requests to these forms come from a mindset shaped by inner and entirely specific circumstances.
Our prayer is not the realm of officialdom. It is not for a church to sanction, curtail or set boundaries upon. The mind and the wish are not the domain of a priest, coven or tribe to abstract and shape into a communal ritual unless we want them to be. Help and support are useful, but they are always secondary and can never pierce the veil like the emotionally sharpened intention of the authentic seeker.
“I am an anarchist, like any other sensible person.” Merlyn. – White: The Book of Merlyn.
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About David Halpin: Originally from Dublin, David Halpin works as a sound engineer and museum research assistant. In his spare time, he compiles local folklore, and documents alignments between ancient monuments near his home. Halpin is a regular contributor at Ancient-Origins.net and Occultum.net where he has written about topics such as esoteric history, Gnosticism and mythology.
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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.