Monday, August 1, 2011


From the dawn of written history, from the time of Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda in the district called variously Mesopotamia, Persia, and Iran, through the Bogomils, through the Cathars, through today's religions, especially those that adopt a rigid mindset with no room for slack of any kind, the unfailing symptom is this: Leaders urge the idea of either/or: Either Behavior A is good, or it's bad. Either it's black, or it's white. There is nothing in between.

Our recent blog on Othering versus Togethering got some of you really going. We'd like to continue in this vein for a little longer, today applying the concept specifically to the religious or spiritual plane of experience.

Many of the early sects were dualists in that they thought of the spiritual world as wholly good and the materialistic earthplane world as wholly evil (sound familiar?). The Cathars*, whose religion was violently suppressed in southern France, were perhaps extremists in this regard: they would not eat anything that was the result of copulation, because copulation involved the physical body. Even such things as milk and cheese were off their diet plan. Further, they denied that Jesus ever was born in the flesh, because flesh was evil: He was only a spiritual being. Thus they were, if you like, a 12th-century forerunner of a vegan's vegan.

At that time the all-powerful church was reaping the benefits of what is called the Medieval Warm Period (when farm products exceeded the needs of the populations, and churchmen of the day took advantage of the surpluses to live in corruption and luxury). Cathars striving for purity presented a visible reminder that the way of poverty and asceticism was more Christlike and less self-indulgent than the decadent path of the Christian church of that day; consequently they had to be eradicated.

This is an extreme illustration of othering. The Cathars were a good people trying sincerely to live by their beliefs, yet they were killed by the thousand because they believed in dualism and strove to live more humbly, as they imagined Jesus had lived.

Why was it impossible for people to meet halfway? In a Monty Python feature, inside Castle Perilous Michael Palin's character begs, "Can't I have just a little peril?" If the Cathars had been willing to bend their rules just a little bit and the churchmen of the day had been willing to forgo some portion of their great greed, somewhere between there could have been common ground and people would not have had to be tortured and killed ... though it was always done in a pious way, of course, "for the good of your soul". (Lady, deliver us from centralized power!)

Today the Taliban's following of strict religious rules is an example of those who cannot adjust by even so much as a gnat's eyelash. And consequently we have world war. As St. Jimmy Buffett might say, "Lighten up."

As we Frosts drive around our little sphere in West Virginia, we see sprouting on increasing numbers of lawns little signs resembling those signs that appear during political campaigns. Instead of doing a fanfare for a candidate, though, today's signs display something called Ten Commandments. Yvonne can't resist composing her own Eleventh Commandment, worded to this effect:

You run yours, and I'll run mine.

The same principle might well be applied to good effect in such cases as assisted suicide, gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research ... you get the idea. Optional is not mandatory.

* Cf Greek catharsis: a purification.


scottybear said...

Greetings as always your comments are thought provoking and your tongue in cheek humor delightful. I thought of you the other day Gavin when in the gym lifting too much weight, too quickly, when I heard a pop in my back. Immediately I sat down dreding what could've just happened. I left the gym went home and stretched,took a advil and gave myself some positive affirmations sending healing energies to the area. In the morning stiff and still in pain I did a morning Yoga class that comes on cable. Well this plus the pranic energy and my non acceptance of a back problem seemed too work. I am happy that we live in a society where a person can practice an alternative healing method without fear of prosecution or the alternative of doctors, chiropractors and pain killers. I understand that in China practicing Falun Dafa is forbidden by the government a practice which seems very similar to Qi Gong. So thats my recent synchronistic experience. Also Gavin and Yvonne how would one go about retaking your courses or buying your books is still active? Another question how do you folks feel about the history channels series Ancient Aliens. I find in fascinating. Thanks for your time and hope you know positive healing energy is always coming your way Gavin. Blessed Be

scottybear said...

OK It seems that has been somewhat updated I understand that Brownwyn aka Jo frost was handling that aspect of your school. I definately (sorry spelling) would like to retake the courses as I took them in a group setting in Wilmington and didn't capture the whole jist. Is it possible to communicate with you Gavin or Yvonne regarding several metaphysical questions I have that may or may not be relevant to this forum. Also anyone who is a inquisitive sort may email me at any haters will be reversed three fold and sent to spam lol

scottybear said...

Good Morning as we speak I am listening to your interview you did with Pagan Blog in 2009 I was curious I know you enjoy traveling and partaking in different spiritual folk. I was curious how you felt about visiting Cherokee NC perhaps during the Autumn. We could be some enlightened leaf lookers lol seriously I think a few years ago I was related to the Scotts that married into the Cherokees and I feel an affinity with these Native Americans. OK for seekers reading this blog it was said that the Cherokee were the first to understand the constitution and say according to this document we have rights to this land but were pushed to Oklahoma nevertheless. About 300 or so Natives hid in the mountain caves and intermarried later maybe with my Scottish farmer folk. (For Yvonne) Scotland Forever!

scottybear said... Folks I have copied and pasted this website blog talk which is interesting and in depth.

scottybear said...

I enjoyed the metaphor the interviewer used saying getting all pagans together is like herding a group of cats lol. Heres a deep one for fellow blog readers. In the same vein of othering perhaps a wise pagan path follower would attend some of the Christian(holy roller lol) meetings on Sunday and slowly abet slowly from the inside change(bend aka wicca) some of their beliefs. For instance the Harry Potter series has a huge cult? following by just calling the main hero a wizard. I believe there is a huge generation of wizards? coming along. If we can slowly indoctrinate these seekers the difference between Hollywood and reality the fight with Christianity would no longer be a fight. A large percentage of the close minded Christian teachings would no longer be acknowledged, as, in the past the wise(wiccans) no longer think the world is flat. Like you said about some of our deities Jesus has his own energy behind him because of all the prayer energy thoughout the years. Yes readers want to absorb some spiritual(psychic)energy? go to a Catholic church during a high mass I can feed on this and often pass alot on to the mother earth visualizing trees growing oceans clearing etcetera pass it on !!! This is what is great about being a neo pagan with Gavin and Yvonne you can introduce new metephysical ideas and techniques without fear of retrobution just thoughtful understanding. Wicca Craft Harness Its Powers now that ones retro lol