Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Blessed Dead Arrive, Again.

“... “Hail, Helios! Hail, Gabriel! Hail, Raphael! Hail, Michael! Hail, whole universe! Give me the authority and the power of SABAŌTH, the strength of IAŌ and the success of ABLANATHANABA and the might of AKRAMMACHAMAREI. Grant that I gain victory as I have summoned you.” [Then write the 59-letter IAEŌ formula.] “Grant victory because I know the names of the Good Daimon, HARPON CHNOUPHI BRITATĒNŌPHRI BRISAROUAZAR BASEN KRIPHI NIPTOUMI CHMOUMAŌPHI [add the usual] and accomplish this for me.” Speak to no one.”
- PGM VII. 1017-26. (Betz, p. 145.)
The problem with how we talk about Christianity, and Christian magick in general, is that we end up reducing it down to specific components, or a homogenous mess. In doing so, we tend to forget what was happening just beneath the surface of Christianity as it emerged following the end of the life of Christ and until it re-emerged from a period in the darkness and shadows of Rome to become one of the dominant religions in the world.

It is easy to forget that from the very beginning, there were rival factions, intense disagreements, and a number of disparate viewpoints. Many of these were subsumed in the rise of the Holy Roman Catholic Church... But they did not end. Even after the rise of the Church, and the establishment of it as a religio-political (is that even a word?) power, there were a number of highly different views that emerged alongside it and at times challenged its authority. One might point to the followers of Arius, the Arians, and the fact that at one point they threatened the established Catholic church. The Cathars of France, who so threatened the power of the Church in that region, are another. Their influence was so strong that following their suppression in the
Albigensian Crusade, the Inquisition was formed to find and stamp out their remaining number and intercede before another such sect could come to power.

Not that it stopped such a thing from happening. Following the Albigensian Crusade, the Church had to face off against: the Anabaptists, the Waldensians, the Lutherans, and so forth.

In attempting to squash descent, what happened was the rapid multiplying of precise what they hadn't wanted.

I say this because this post follows up my previous one on the Blessed Dead of Christianity and the act of Anointing. And because at this point, I'm tired of the antagonism between “Pagans and Christians” and all the rest. So, since I have a book exploring concepts I like, and which gives me food for thought, I'm going to share it. Tomorrow, if I have time, I'll also talk about some of what I'm pretty sure the author has gotten wrong. But for today, let us focus on what I like in From the Bodies of the Gods: Psychoactive Plants and the Cults of the Dead by Earl Lee. I also want to add that R.O.'s story revolving his mother and anointing, in the comments, is wicked neat and worth going and taking a look at all on its own. I have also run around stealing images of crypts (which I hope are actually Catholic, and not simply anti-Catholic propaganda... since I found some of the coolest on anti-Catholic sites and sat there baffled at the hate and hostility) to spice the blog entry up. Expect a lot of skulls, man.


The fourth chapter,
Ritual Cannibalism and Sacred Foods (not what you're probably thinking) has even more information on how Earl Lee suspects a Christian cult dedicated to the Blessed Dead (in Christ) arose. The references to look out for in this case involve Terrence McKenna... But this time I have to be like, “who doesn't love Terrence McKenna?” Religion could use more machine-elves of the magic love-land, after all. On the other hand, his references to witches potentially using Amanita Muscaria? I'll talk about that, tomorrow. It's possible, but there isn't enough evidence to be sure one way or another.

Some of his citations and inferences continue a rather brilliant train of thought. I'm going to focus on those, and provide links where I can to reference points that way you can chew on the author's thoughts and take a gander at what inspired those thoughts, if possible.

One thing I avoided bringing up in the last entry was his context for comments that Jesus makes to the Pharisees in the Matthew. In particular, Matthew 15:4-7, and Matthew 23:29-33. His argument is that the commandment to 'Honor thy father, and thy Mother' which is recurrent in Jesus' statements refers to the idea that the Pharisees were trying to stop the ancestral rites of the
Blessed Dead at the Marzeah feasts. This is a very, very different interpretations of the commandments of Jesus than the one I was taught by crazy Southern Baptist ministers. They were always literal. What can I say? I like the idea.

Continuing on, then:
The earliest followers of Jesus Christ were familiar with the practices of these cults, and some church leaders – like the Apostles Paul and John – did not hesitate to use the power of hallucinogenic and sacred plants to create their own visions and bind their followers into a tightly knit community of believers. They created sacred food and holy oils that had the power give people visions and a full knowledge and possession of supernatural truths...” (P. 65)
“After the first few centuries of the early Christian Church, the true nature of the sacred blood became a closely held secret, and the sacred oils were restricted to smaller and smaller groups as we can see in this statement made in 416 CE by Pope Innocent:
That this power of a bishop, however, is due to the bishops alone, so that they either sign or give the Paraclete the Spirit... For to presbyters it is permitted to anoint the baptized with Chrism whenever they baptize... but with Christ that has been consecrated by a bishop; nevertheless it is not allowed to sign the forehead with the same oil; that is due to the bishops alone when they bestow the Spirit, the Paraclete.” (Dezinger 2002, p.3)
Here the bishops extend their power over who can be anointed and how. Later, sacred foods and oils were completely suppressed by the church leaders...” (P. 66)
He goes on to make a case for early Christian use of hallucinogenic plants and fungi, including his comments on which of the books of the New Testament seem particularly inclined toward the use of drugs, if at least in a somewhat cryptic or covert fashion. Unfortunately, he seems to have conflated the Apostle John with John of Patmos. I can forgive this, since he seems to indicate thinking that John of Patmos was a follower of the teachings of John the Evangelist. It simply struck me as odd, given the sheer amount of Southern Baptists I used to know that confused the two... Quite often. I should note that I assume Revelations is probably one of the most read trip-reports of All Time. And I assume he was eating some funky 'shrooms at points while also ranting about the corruption of Rome.

However, he continues fairly meaningfully from the John-oriented points to Ignatius of Antioch and his attacks on the Christians that rejected the Eucharist:
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of his goodness, raised up again.” (Ignatius of Antioch, “To the Smyrnaeans,” 7.1) (P. 68)

“Several modern scholars have noted the conflict within the early church among several groups that used sacred food and oils. There was an argument over which food and oils were truly “of Christ.” Some groups – such as the church in Antioch – claimed to have a direct connection to the physical body of Jesus Christ, while others emphasized the purely spiritual aspect of the body of Christ. St. Ignatius seems to have sided with those who emphasized the physical body as the true source of the spiritual...” (P. 68-69)

And then, he drops a few bombshells in a row:
During the next two centuries the Christian Church prospered all across the Roman Empire. But at this point in church history something amazing happened: after centuries of secrecy, hidden in the shadows, the Christian Church – now becoming politically powerful and financially secure – proclaimed the truths that is faithful only whispered about before. The Christian cult of the dead was now ready to publicly embrace the dead – and it did so with two vital documents written in the third and fourth centuries, the Didascalia Apostolorum and the Apostolic Constitutions. For the first time these two documents publicly repudiate the idea that the human corpse was somehow unclean. (McCane 2003, p.115). The reasoning behind this idea: from the Christian perspective, the dead were not really dead by simply asleep in Christ. In particular, the Didascalia Apostolorum states: “therefore do you approach without restraint to those who are at rest, and hold them not unclean.” (Didascalia Apostolorum 6.22, cited in McCane 2003, p.115). Similarly and perhaps more revealingly, the Apostolic Constitutions, or the Teachings of the Apostles, attacks some Christians for refusing the Eucharist:

Others, again, of them do refuse certain meats, and say that marriage with the procreation of children is evil, and the contrivance of the devil; being ungodly themselves, they are not willing to rise again from the dead on account of their wickedness. Wherefore also they ridicule the resurrection, and say, 'We are Holy People, unwilling to eat and drink'; and they fancy they shall rise again from the dead [which they will, but as] demons without flesh, who shall be condemned forever in eternal fire. Fly, therefore from them, lest ye perish with them in their impieties.” (Apostolic Constitutions 1:26).” (P. 69-70).
Suddenly, I have to wonder whether or not the Necromancers that the Inquisition encountered after the 12th century and set them to a three-century build-up towards frenzy were not, in fact, attempting to contact other, dead, heretics. The statement, above, implies that even those who had rejected the Eucharist would rise again, as fleshless demons...

Incidentally, the section of the
Didascalia Apostolorum he cites comes from 26th chapter. It might be helpful to see the whole section:
Do not load yourselves again with that our Lord and Saviour has lifted from you. And do not observe these things, nor think them uncleanness; and do not refrain yourselves on their account, nor seek after sprinklings, or baptisms, or purification for these things. For in the Second Legislation, if one touch a dead man or a tomb, he is baptized [=needs purification]; but do you not, according to the Gospel and according to the power of the Holy Spirit, come together even in the cemeteries, and read the holy Scriptures, and without demur perform your ministry and your supplication to God; and offer an acceptable Eucharist, the likeness of the royal body of Christ, both in your congregations and in your cemeteries and on the departures of them that sleep—pure bread that is made with fire and sanctified with invocations— and without doubting pray and offer for them that are fallen asleep? For they who have believed in God, according to the Gospel, even though they should sleep, they are not dead; as our Lord said to the Sadducees:
Concerning the Resurrection of the Dead, have ye not read that whtch is written: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And he is not the God of the dead, but of the living!And Elisha the prophet also, after he had slept and was a long while (dead), raised up a dead man; for his body touched the body of the dead and quickened and raised it up. But this could not have been were it not that, even when he was fallen asleep, his body was holy and filled with the Holy Spirit. For this cause therefore do you approach without restraint to those who are at rest [=the deceased], and hold them not unclean. ” (From the link provided.)
Continuing toward the last samples:
At about this same time, St. Jerome (347-420 CE) advocated for Christians to seperate themselves further from the Jews and their belief in the impurity of corpses. As we might expect, St. Jerome was also a strong advocate for the full participation by everyone in the funeral aspects of the Christian cult of the dead. According to Professor Byron McCane in Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus:
The cult of the dead had come out into the open, and Christians were leading the way. Jerome not only participated in the cult of the dead, he gave it his written approval and argued it was a Christian duty to take part.” (2003, p.117)
This and other energetic appeals were directed to all Christians who were now openly directed to accept the dead as if they were still members of the community, and many churches openly enjoyed this practices. Even churches in Palestine, at the heart of Judaism, were now embracing the dead so that 'by the fifth and sixth centuries, Christians in Palestine had brought the remains of corpses right into their church buildings.' (McCane 2003, 121). They did this in a way that distinguished them from their Jewish brethren, who were still quite leery of being in the presence of a corpse, much less including a cadaver in a religious service.” (P. 70-71).
And that is where I shall stop. Tomorrow I may address Amanita Muscaria and European witchery as I know it... or I might let it go, since he's got a good source for being a bit off.

Be seeing you,



Earl Lee said...

you might find this useful as a follow up to the book

Jack Faust said...

Oh, wonderful, Mr. Lee!

Now I'm less annoyed about having to read five more books before even feeling capable of assessing some of the later material in the book. LOL.

The blog looks awesome. Thank you very much for the link.