Posted in Lessons, the bible

Unraveling Biblical Wrath

God’s Infamous Wrath

For two-hundred centuries, Christianity has spoken about the wrathful nature of God. God is jealous, fickle and when “His” people sin against “Him” He punishes them with His wrath – doing all manner of terrible things against humanity in retribution for their sin.  We hear of God’s judgment and how those who disobey, who anger or disappoint God, who do not live up to God’s standards will be cast into hell where they will burn for an eternity for their sins.  We read stories of God’s punishment of humanity – barring us from paradise, devastating the world through a flood, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, condemning the Hebrews to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years in their search of the elusive “promised land.”  We hear of how God tested humanity by His wrath – asking Abraham to sacrifice his long=awaited son, creating an environment where jealousy would emerge between Cain and Abel and Esau and Jacob, Jacob’s sons and Joseph.  In the Christian interpretation of Hebrew scripture, God’s wrath has become infamous and for 2000 years has been used as a means of threatening Christians into obedience – even though Jesus spoke only of a loving and compassionate God.  What happened?

Lost in Translation

As I was doing some research in preparation for my Order of Melchizedek Level Four class on the Hebrew Alphabet and the Major Arcana of the Tarot, I came upon an obscure reference on the biblical term wrath:

Wrath is the quality associated with (the Hebrew letter) Samech, but this is a blind. The literal meaning of the original Hebrew noun is “quivering” or “vibration.”  A similar blind is found in the use of the Greek noun thumos, also translated “wrath” in the New Testament. (The Tarot – a Key to the Wisdom of the Ages;  Paul Foster Case. Pg 153).

This reference blew me away! If it were true, it completely changes what Christians have been taught about the wrathful nature of God.  Not satisfied by a singular reference, I got to researching and discovered that what Paul Foster Case is suggesting is undoubtedly true.  While there are many Hebrew words that have been translated “wrath“they all have one thing in common – a sense of movement and vibration, somewhat akin to breath.

The Hebrew word chemah provides the perfect example of the deeper meaning of wrath:

Chemah is commonly translated as wrath. When we break this word down into the Hebrew letters which make up this word so that we can more fully grasp its meaning. we get the following:

Ches/Chet: Means an enclosure – that which supports, protects and carries us. On a spiritual level, Ches/Chet implies Divine Grace.

Mem: Means water. On a spiritual level, Mem represents the revealed and the concealed – inviting us to look beyond the surface of things to what lies beneath/within.

Hei:  Hei means window/door – that which allows light and air to enter our home. On a spiritual level, Hei is the breath through which God creates and represents God’s limitless mercy. (The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael Monk)

Putting this all together, we have chemah – the breath of God which supports, protects and carries us – no matter what that breath looks like from our limited human perspective.  In other words, that which feels like punishment is in fact God’s infinite mercy carrying us to and through our growth.

Let me give you an example – the most basic example – the example upon which every fear of God’s eternal punishment has been predicated – the story of “The Fall.” We all know the story – Adam and Eve lived in Paradise. The serpent came and tempted them to eat of the tree from which God forbade them – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They ate.  God was angry over their disobedience and as punishment, cast them forever out of the Garden of Eden.  The problem is, however, that this is not really how scripture describes it:

Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—  therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life. GN 3: 22- 24

First of all, it only says that the man was driven out.  (things that make you go hmmmmm). Beyond an interesting feminist exploration, a bigger question emerges!  Was God’s action a punishment or an act of mercy?  If the human condition is the consequence of humanity’s decision to “eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” do we want to live forever?  Do we want to be condemned to remaining in the Garden where we will have to experience the suffering that is inherent in the human condition – FOREVER?  I don’t think so!  In God’s great mercy, God removed humanity from the Garden where we could eat of the Tree of Life so that we WOULD NOT have to live forever.  In barring us from the Tree of Life, God opened the door/window (Hei) to our return by ensuring that the human experience is only temporary and after we have completed our journey here, we can return to our original state of Oneness with God.  The other mercy in humanity’s exile from the Garden is the longing for home that has been planted within every human being (Ches/Chet) that compels us to seek after the satisfaction of that longing that can only be fulfilled in God.  This longing is the foundation and source of our spiritual development and growth and ultimately what makes us human.

Throughout scripture we can apply this perspective to every story that speaks of God’s wrath. Was it wrath and punishment or God’s infinite mercy?  Is it condemnation or an opportunity for growth?  When we look beyond the surface of things (Mem), we can see the loving hand of God in everything that unfolds in our human experience – even those things we would rather avoid (pain, suffering, loss, death, betrayal, etc.).  When we look at life through the lens of love, we see that EVERYTHING is an opportunity to know love (aka God) more.

Wrath from a Human Perspective

Now that we have a better understanding of wrath as it pertains to God, let’s take a look at it from the human perspective as it relates to the very real human experience of anger. (Putting on my spiritual psychology hat)….

 

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Posted in Authentic Freedom, Empowerment, Inspiration, women

Dragons and Feminine Power

This week, we’ve been unraveling and debunking the patriarchal degradation of symbols of feminine power. We started the week with Eve and continued with the serpent.  Today, we tackle the dragon.

In biblical lore, the dragon is cast in the role of demon – devil, Lucifer, Satan, the Leviathan, the dragon who carries the Whore of Babylon and the one that threatens the woman standing “with the moon at her feet” and her newborn child. To the patriarchy, the dragon represents evil, temptation, sin, and the threat of eternal damnation. But why?  Why is the dragon cast in this role of death and destruction?

My sense is that this association between the dragon and temptation has more to do with the patriarchy’s fear of feminine power (their own feminine power) than it does with a literal demon seducing us into sin. When we look at the ancient cultures that preceded the warring patriarchal hoards, we see nothing but a benevolent relationship between dragon and human beings.  In Chinese culture, for example, the dragon represents abundance, wealth, and good fortune; and with its Yin counterpart, the phoenix, portrays the perfect harmony intended between male and female in intimate partnership – each supporting and elevating each other in their unique giftedness. Even in Chassidic Hebrew beliefs, especially in the mysticism of the Kabbalah, the dragon (as a serpent) is welcome as the inner force that awakens us, that carries our true power and which leads us toward embracing and harnessing that power so that we might fulfill our Soul’s mission.

Gnostic Tarot of the Saints by Robert M. Place Llewellyn Press

It is in Christianity where we see the most damning portrayals of the dragon – most notably the dragon that wishes to devour the holy child, thereby thwarting the Divine purpose of liberation. But here is something interesting, in Christian iconography, we see contrasting images of the dragon and its role in the human journey of transformation.   St. Michael the Archangel holds his sword aloft poised at the ready to pierce the dragon’s heart, thereby destroying the source of temptation.  St. Margaret, on the other hand, does not fear or resist the dragon when it swallows her, instead, she walks steadily through the perceived darkness, finding her way to the light and in doing so, discovering the untapped power within her to move through her fears so she could discover and live her truth.

There is a profound lesson in the story of St. Margaret for all of us – that which we perceive to be our demon, our dragon, our “darkness” is not there to destroy us, neither is it meant to be destroyed. Instead, the dragons in our lives are meant to be welcomed for it is in and through our challenges that we find our strength.

This is the secret power of the Divine feminine and that which the patriarchy has attempted to destroy – the power to stand in the darkness and through the darkness finding our way to the light – even if that means (most especially when it means) staring death itself in the face. As every true queen knows, the dragon is not to be destroyed. Instead, we are invited to meet it face to face, harness its power and let it carry us.

Posted in Discernment, Inspiration, Mary Magdalene, Order of Melchizedek

Receiving a Vision and Seeing it Through

For many years I have used the Tarot as a source of guidance and support. I do not believe the cards themselves are guiding me, but that the archetypal images are reflecting back to me the deep truths I know in my heart but sometimes cannot see through the intrusions of the mind.  Yesterday morning, at another crossroads in my life, I laid cards.  What came through at once surprised me and affirmed what I have known all along.  I have many times been given a vision of my mission and purpose in this life.  This mission has not changed and is being fulfilled in the timing that can only come from the Divine. As I told a friend on Monday,

“I am very clear on my mission. As the Catholic Church (and other forms of institutional religion) implode upon themselves, I am here as a bridge, a source of comfort and a guide.  I am able to speak the language of the people who will be leaving the Church.  I can be a source of comfort and support for their grief and shock.  I will support them in finding healing from the trauma and break free of co-dependency.  I will provide them with tools in a language with which they are familiar that will empower them in finding their own truth.”

This is the work I have been doing for the past 25 years and the work I will continue to do. In laying cards, this has, once again, been confirmed:

Here were the cards I drew:

The Empress: At the center is the card that represents self. Here, she is the Empress.  The Empress, here represented by St. Helena represents the reception of a vision/mission/purpose and the courage and strength to see it through.  The Empress tells us, “You know what your mission is…..stick with it….be true to your mission….and see it through. In remaining diligent and faithful, it will be fulfilled.

High Priestess: The second card represents the situation we are currently facing. Here, represented by the Magdalene who plays the role of priestess.  The priestess card is all about the inner journey, the esoteric, mystery and intuition. The priestess card presides over the gateway between life and death is able to communicate with “the gods.”  The Priestess tells us to listen to the voice within and act according to its dictates.  She tells us to trust our intuition even (especially) when it makes no logical sense whatsoever.  She reminds me that this is what I am to continue to do for myself, while supporting others in doing the same.

Ten of Staffs: To the right of the two center cards is the card that represents new beginnings and inspiration. Here – the ten of staffs which represent RESURRECTION.  What has died will find new life.  The phoenix will come forth out of the ash.  Considering all the endings and “death” I have experienced in the past many years, I can only take this as a message of great hope and promise, confirming what I have always believed  –  if the Universe is asking so much to come to an end, it must be for the sake of something HUGE.  I welcome whatever that might be.

6 of Cups: At the bottom is the card that presents transition. Connected with the element of fire it represents taking in what is life-giving and letting go of that which no longer serves.  This is the corner of transformation.  As the 6 of cups, this card represents service – specifically service to others.  Here, depicted as Jesus washing the feet of his disciples – a card of humble service and the inversion of hierarchy.  I take this as an invitation to hold true to my commitment and focus on humble service – avoiding the temptations of the ego to place oneself above others as “teacher” or “priest” or “guru” but instead as companion.  We are all on this journey trying to figure our own sh.t out.  If I can help others find themselves in the middle of the debris of our human experience, then I am humbled and grateful to do so.

The Star: The card to the left represents the process of coming into maturity – approaching the fruition of our labors. In the traditional Tarot, this is the Star card, here portrayed by Teresa of Avila in her vision of the interior castle (heaven) and the seven step process of getting there.  This card represents our own ascension (attainment of self-actualization and bringing that into our lived experience.)  It also represents a breakthrough and an opportunity suddenly becoming available.  I’ll take it!

Knight of Swords: The top cards represent the outcome of the journey. The first card, the Knight of Swords, invites us to explore our demons and our attitude toward them.  Are they our enemy and something to be destroyed, or can we find a gentler way of dealing with the perceived obstacles both within and outside of us?  St. George invites me to take the gentle path and to work toward integration and union rather than destruction.  Interestingly this is EXTREMELY relevant at this time in my journey.

Nine of Coins: The final card is the card of true abundance – a spiritual abundance providing material support. It also represents receiving the fruits of our labors. This is the experience I’ve been waiting for….and may it be so!

If you are interested in learning the Tarot from a Christian perspective, check out the Tarot of the Saints by Robert M. Place. The Tarot is also explored in depth in my online Order of Melchizedek Training Program. 

order of melchizedek, Christian Magic, Catholic Magic, ritual, magic, shamanism, kabbalah,

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Death, grief, Inspiration, Lessons, Spiritual Practices, Surrender

Big Endings Lead to Big Beginnings

 

Every day as part of my morning ritual, I pull one card from my Gnostic Tarot of the Saints deck (Robert M. Place 2001). For the past three mornings, I have pulled the Death card.  While the appearance of this card might strike fear in the hearts of many, I find the Death card to be a huge source of comfort.  Maybe it is due to my gifts as a shadow worker – a master in confronting and dealing with the parts of the human experience from which most would run.  More likely, it is because I understand that death is not death at all…it is simply the boundary between that which has (and likely needs to) come to an end and that which is waiting to be born.  As resurrection after death is the promise of Christian belief, so is it the promise of the tarot – in every death is the promise of new life – we need simply be open to receiving it.  Pulling the death card on three consecutive days suggests that the death one has just faced, or is currently facing is a HUGE one.  It also suggests that the new that is coming into being is equally as huge.

This must certainly be the case for me. As I have mentioned many times over, the past three years have been a DOOZIE!  Letting go.  Releasing.  Surrendering.  Letting go some more.  Complete surrender and supplication.  Many times in the past three years I have uttered the prayer, “WTF????!!!!”  My recent move has invited a HUGE release including many aspects of my work about which I had become comfortable.  Our new place is AMAZING and feels so much more like home and perfectly reflective of my vibe….and yet I find myself in the time between what has ended and what has not yet begun.  It is an insecure and uncertain time.  If the BIG MOVE and the BIG LETTING GO wasn’t enough, I recently went through an experience of something that seemed to be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, only to have it turn to dust in my hands.  This brought forth an ending I had never anticipated along with a grief proportionate to that ending.

With all of this, it is no surprise that the Death card should appear. Again, while the appearance of this card might strike fear in the hearts of many, I am finding profound comfort in the presence of Death.  Death is saying to me, “Lauri, what no longer serves has come to an end.  You have surrendered these unto Me and now you are free of them.  Completely free.  You will no longer be burdened by those things that no longer serve your highest good and which no longer support the mission you are called to fulfill.”  As Death so lovingly stated, I feel completely free of these things and utterly at peace.

This is not all that Death has to say, however. “Lauri, now is the time for rest. As Jesus rested in the tomb for three days and three nights, so too are you invited to rest.  Be with what has been and allow yourself to be healed and transformed from what in the past may have harmed you.  As a caterpillar in the chrysalis, allow yourself to be made new.  As it was true for Christ, as is true for the caterpillar, the new can only be made in the depths of the darkness.  The new is not of your making and requires no effort on your part as like the caterpillar, it is a work that arises out of the depths of your Soul, coming forth from your own Divine blueprint.  In this you need do nothing.  Simply be.  Wait.  Be patient.  Trust.  When it is time to come forth out of your tomb, you will know it and you will come forth into a whole new world, the likes of which you cannot even imagine.”

To this I say, “Thank you Death. I welcome you with open arms and surrender into promise of new life.”

Big endings lead to even bigger beginnings…and to this I say, “Bring it!”