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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

   (As offered by Cyprian at the Pan-Pagan Festival August, 1980
 Physicists currently interpret physical creation, that is, the
 universe as we know it, as having occurred within a time span o
 about three minutes...the "Big Bang."  Our physical universe is
 thought to have been created with the explosion of a hyper-dense
 particle which contained every bit of matter and energy that now
 exists in the universe, including the matter which forms our
 living bodies as we meet here today.  This hyper-dense super
 molecule also is thought to have been quite small.  Dr. Leon
 Friedman, director of the FermiLab near Chicago, has indicated it
 may have ben no larger than a basket ball.  Into this "ball" was
 jammed all matter and all energy in our universe.  It remained
 there until some creative force, some creative urge, disrupted
 the status of this primal "egg" and set into being the universe
 as we know it.  this event occurred with the so-called "Big
 Bang," echoes of which have been detected by scientific
 Our interpretation of the nature of this creative force or
 creative urge is opposed to that of Judeo-Christianity in that we
 perceive it as feminine...they see it as masculine.  We hold that
 pre-creation was feminine and this divergence in concept of first
 Things, creation, forever separates our Neopagan world-view from
 the Judeo-Christians.  Briefly consider this, and you may want to
 dwell upon it later, our Goddess, of Her own will, receives Her
 consort, the God whom she created, and from Their union our
 creation is ever revived and sustained.  The Christian reviver
 and sustainer, on the other hand, was conceived in a most
 singular manner.  The omnipotent God sent a neuter third party
 messenger, and angel, to announce to a virgin that she was
 pregnant with the child, Jesus.  So there.  Zap!  What a
 put-down!  What revival and sustenance can we find in such a
 sterile and asexual concept?  Even masculine old Zeus copulated
 with human females so at least somebody got some fun out of the
 process!  What we Neopagans find difficult to understand is why
 Judeo-Christianity so vehemently turned its back on sex and not
 just sex as a physical act but also sex as a gender,
 specifically, sex as a feminine gender.
 When we seek to deal with Creation we also must situate our place
 as human beings within the totality of Creation.  The orthodox
 Judeo-Christian view gives humans a special place within
 Creation; that is, that we are not part of general creation but a
 special creation..."Man was created in the image of God"...and
 the rest of creation is our plaything..."Yours is the earth and
 everything on it."  There is no need to expound upon our
 rejection of these two fundamental points:  of course we are not
 created in any special way, any more than is a rock or a tree or
 a raccoon or a galaxy, nor do we have dominion over anything.  We
 are a part of general creation along with every other particle of
 matter in the universe.
 I hope you grasp the vast difference this makes; it forever
 separates us from the Judeo-Christian heritage and it s a gulf
 that cannot be bridged.  They must forever consider themselves
 special and we must forever consider ourselves general and one
 with creation.  And it is given to us to look at a grain of sand
 and in that grain see the sum total of creation and to see
 ourselves as part of it and to gibe thanks for the creative force
 of the Goddess and Her consort that sustains this creation.
 With Chaos, as with so many other concepts, we must think on at
 least two levels, the physical and the mythical, to come to any
 sort of understanding of ourselves and what we really believe
 about our place in creation.  And it is this belief, this
 understanding that is the ultimate determination of how we live
 as human beings upon this beautiful Earth.  That is what we
 Neopagans are trying to do right now:  learn to think differently
 that Western man has thought in nearly two-thousand years in
 order that we may live in a renewed relationship with creation. 
 It is an exciting adventure.
 Before there was form, there was Chaos.  We may well suppose
 Chaos represents the disordered formlessness of matter and energy
 in that initial "Big Bang" of the primordial egg in those first
 three minutes when creation began.  Mythologically, we see this
 formlessness as before the Earth and Sky were separated, as
 before the four elements, actually the four states of matter, had
 coalesced into their separate forms.  The myths speak darkly of
 this time, of the births of the Titans, Cyclops and 100-handed
 monsters, of a father who devours his own young...what better way
 to represent Chaos!
 We may assume, too, we have our own dark and personal counterpart
 to this primal Chaos.  Is it that black win that whips at the
 raveled edge o sanity?  I believe our ancestors felt far more
 keenly than we can understand in this present age a constant fear
 that what order they had managed to being to their lives, indeed,
 what order they could see in creation around them, would suddenly
 collapse and they would be plunged into chaos and madness.  Greek
 myths are redolent with stories of madness and possession.  Even
 great Heracles fell victim.  It is no wonder, then, the gods of
 chaos are said to have been chained beneath the Earth, castrated,
 even devoured.  But they still live, they still can escape. 
 And to some degree, escape they have from time to time.  How else
 can we account for the chaos of war, of a Hitler, a Napoleon, a
 Viet Nam?
 Modern psychology recognizes the chaotic madness that dwells in
 all of us, ever ready to pounce and destroy.  We may think of it
 as a chained and raging primal demi-god, that psychologists
 probably use more scientific language but when that chain snaps,
 the result is the same; concentration camps, starvation, and on
 and on.  History is too full of such dismal lists.  There is no
 need to go on with a recitation or horrors.
 But that does turn us at once to the next topic...the
 consideration of evil.
 Every religion, great and small, has had to wrestle with the
 problem of evil because evil poses a fundamental question:  how
 can an all-omnipotent god who is all good permit evil to
 exist?...and this is whether you interpret evil as some dark
 malevolent Satan or whether you see it as death camps, war,
 starvation or whatever.
 Judeo-Christian theologians have wrestled with the problem of
 evil since the very beginnings of the Judeo-Christian faith. 
 When boiled down, all the more reasonable answers go something
 like this:  The all-powerful God permits evil to exist so that
 man, who is created in God's image, may have a choice between
 good and evil.  Ultimately, in the Last Days, evil will be
 defeated and woe betide those who made the wrong choice!  At
 first glance this seems satisfactory but we Neopagans cannot
 accept it because it sets man apart, as being different from the
 rest of creation.  This is absolutely contrary to what we
 believe.  We hold that man is VERY MUCH a natural part of
 creation and we have no special place in it.  We have no more
 choice between good and evil than the stars or a bumblebee.
 To the non-Pagan, then, who asks us to explain the existence of
 evil we must give a two-fold reply:  one, we are not special
 creatures so we cannot truly know what evil is or if it even
 exists; that which we perceive with our limited faculties as evil
 may not be evil at all within the creative scheme. Two, our
 three-fold Goddess is possessed of a dark visage, the Hag, which
 we no more understand than we do the Lusting Nymph or the Loving
 Mother-Creator.  The Hag, the Old Woman who lays us out and
 prepares our remains for the journey to the Land behind the North
 Wind, is no "Satan" but an integral part of the creative process,
 which we see as our three-fold Goddess.
 If we are pressed hard enough, at the end we must say a Hitler, a
 Vietnam war, a starving child are all part of the creative
 process although we cannot pretend to know exactly how or why.
 We must confess, too, that a statement we simply don't know and
 cannot know the nature of evil is easily interpreted as a
 cop-out.  This is not rue in our case, though, because we do not
 believe in special creation, that is, man is not a special
 creature molded in the image of the Creator and sharing the
 Creator's mind.  No, man is simply a part of the overall creative
 urge and therefore it is not given to us to know good and evil
 anymore than it is to my two cat friends, Buzz and Fang.
 But the problem of what we think of as evil is not resolved by
 casting it aside with a simplistic explanation we are not given
 to know what it is...although we Neo-Pagans, I think, pretty
 generally agree this is a true statement.  But just because it is
 true does not put the question to rest.  There is another
 approach, however, and this approach to the problem makes a lot
 of ultimate sense for us Neo-Pagans.
 As stated earlier, the astro-physicists and we agree on the
 probable pre-creation existence of a super-molecule or, in
 mythical terms, a "world egg."  This egg exploded to create the
 universe, Creation, as we know it.  If we accept this cosmology,
 and it makes sense with our mythos, then we must also accept the
 fact there is only a finite amount of matter and energy in
 creation.  There can be no "new" matter or energy, only matter
 and energy that have been recycled.  And were not only matter and
 energy re-cycled and interchanged then we would run out of matter
 and energy and creation would reach a state of status wherein
 matter and energy were forever locked in cold sterility.  Don't
 we, in fact represent this constant play-interplay of matter and
 energy as the reviving and renewing union of the Goddess and Her
 Even more germane to our problem of evil; may that which we
 perceive so dimly as evil actually be an essential part of this
 re-cycling of matter/energy?  If so, then we have the key example
 of our Wiccan/Neopagan belief in BALANCE.  That is, creative
 forces must be balanced by destructive forces in order to
 preserve the interplay between matter and energy...and we
 represent this by the copulation of the Goddess and Her consort.
 Perhaps we shouldn't fear our Goddess as Hag nor run in fear when
 Pan tosses his horns and roars.  Perhaps dimly we can understand
 life and death, construction and destruction, the coming together
 and the tearing apart, are necessary to sustain Creation.
 The true nature of sin generally is misunderstood in Western
 society and has been for many is tempted to
 suspect, by design.  Sin does not involve right and wrong or good
 and bad; these are moral and ethical concepts.  Sin concerns
 itself with man's deliberate and willful separation from God and
 man's disobedience of the Law.  The Law is that agreement
 established between man and God:  "I'll do this if you'll do
 that."  Although all the major religions and even the so-called
 primitive religions deal with concepts which my be equated with
 sin, only Christianity has developed sin to a fine art...indeed,
 it may be the single pivotal idea which not only separates
 Christianity from our Paganism but also from the rest of the
 religious world.  Obviously, the "sin and guilt" trip has paid
 pretty good dividends within the Judeo-Christian heritage.  But
 these dividends have been garnered at a terrible, terrible price.
 We Wiccans and Neopagans may be almost alone in rejecting the
 concept of sin.  Yet, we must reject it if we are to follow
 logically our view of creation and our place in it.  Put it
 together this way; can a tree sin? no, it can only be a tree; can
 your cat sin? no, he can only be a cat; can a human sin? no, he
 can only be a human.  In other words, none of us can be wither
 more or less than our creation.  Now, remember what we said about
 general creation.  If we accept this idea of general creation,
 that we are no different from the other life around us, then we
 are just as incapable of true sin as the tree or the cat, we can
 only be what we are...human.  To accept the idea of sin means you
 must also accept the idea of special creation, that our human
 race is somehow special and god-like and therefore is capable of
 sin, and if you think so then you are in the wrong pew.
 It seems almost blasphemous to me to think our Goddess would in
 some way create us flawed and imperfect...creatures somehow able
 to deny our own creation...did She create the tree imperfect, or
 your cat?  Then why should we be???  We are created as humans to
 be humans and we should find joy in that fact, not sin.
 This is the great freedom of Wicca and Neopaganism; that we are
 free of sin and its guilt trip...that we are left with the
 admonition that all joy, all mirth, all pleasure are our Goddess'
 Fully stated, our Rede declares, "An' it harm none, do what thou
 wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
 Law, in this usage and as we've mentioned, refers to the
 relationship between Man and god and this Rede, then, is in total
 keeping with our contention that man is not special creation but
 has just the same relationship to divinity as does any other part
 of creation.
 If you have trouble dealing with this, then you are confusing sin
 and ethics.  And ethics is our next topic.
 Unlike sin, which is a religious concept and which may be
 considered as a constant from one age to another...that is,
 willful separation from God must be the same for any time and
 place...ethics involve a moral choice between what is deemed
 right and wrong and with this we come to the realization that
 which is right in one time and one society, is wrong in another.
 Thus, the moral and ethical standards of, say, 18th century
 England and 20th century America hardly are congruent despite a
 common heritage.
 But it is at exactly this point that we Wiccan/Neopagans have
 introduced a novel idea:  a moral and ethical constant:
 "Eight words the wiccan Rede fulfill; An' it harm none, do what
 ye will."
 Now, you and I are fully aware that outsiders first learning of
 our Rede smirk behind their hands and conjure in their minds all
 sorts of images or orgies and such.  Well, I've been a Crafter
 for thirty years and more, and I've yet to attend a Craft orgy. 
 so, if any of you are planning on throwing one, I wish you'd
 invite me, and do hurry before I get too old to enjoy it!
 All of which is by way of saying the Rede is widely
 misunderstood.  It simply sounds too much like an unbridled
 license for hedonism.  Of course it is not.  But to seek its true
 meaning we must first go back a few centuries.
 the earliest known literary reference to our Rede, "Do what ye
 will," appears in that marvelous Renaissance satire, Gargantua,
 written by the French doctor-monk, Francios Rabelais, in 1534. 
 In Book I, a certain monk is very helpful to Gargantua in winning
 a battle and Gargantua offers him several rich abbeys as reward
 but the monk rebukes Gargantua, saying, "For how shall I be able
 to rule over others that have not full power and command over
 myself?"  The monk then asks Gargantua to found an abbey like no
 other and thus is established the Abbaye de Theleme and the rule
 of the order is, "Fay ce que voudras"...Do what thou wilt.  And
 this is no libertine license but it is an essential and
 straightforward clue to our understanding of the Rede.
 The second clue to our Rede occurred during the summer of 1918
 when Aleister Crowley painted on the Hudson River cliffs south of
 Kingston, New York, this slogan:
                  EVERY MAN AND WOMAN IS A STAR!
                         DO WHAT THOU WILT
                   SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW
 Crowley, a man of great scholarship and magick, had recognized
 the truth expressed in Rabelais and taken it a step further,
 which Rabelais could not have dared. (Rabelais' printer was
 burned at the stake for heresy.)
 Now, keep in min the Law refers to the relationship established
 between man and his creation/divinity.  All religions have this
 relationship spelled out as their Law and this Law usually is
 employed to establish the ethical/moral relationship relationship
 between men because it is also the ethical/moral relationship
 between man and God.  One, then, is used to justify the other. 
 Thus, there was the attempt to trap Jesus between the religious
 Law and the moral law but he very handily fielded the question by
 "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy
 soul, and all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.
 And the second is like unto it; thou shalt love thy neighbor as
 thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the
 And as Jesus recognized a new Law so Crowley saw in Rabelais'
 "Fay ce que voudras" a further interpretation of the Law and he
 expressed it in red paint on the Hudson River cliffs.
 At this point is is possible, even tempting, to go off on some
 very fine semantic nit-picking but that is not our purpose and it
 would be counter-productive because we are simplistic
 religionists and such goings on would be like trying to determine
 how many elementals can dance on the point of an athame and it
 would only serve to muddy some already confused thinking. 
 Instead, let me offer two very broad brush strokes based on the
 clues already offered.  If these are helpful, then I am more than
 rewarded; if they are useful thinking tools, then I am twice
 blessed!  So here goes:
 When Gargantua's helpful monk refused the offer of rich abbeys,
 saying, "For how shall I be able to rule over others that have
 not full power and command over myself?" he established the first
 part of our understanding of the Rede.  Unless and until such
 time as you are able to exert your own will over yourself, "full
 power and command," then our Rede, "Do as ye will," has very
 little meaning because you can't truly will anything, and you are
 no more than a plaything for every wind that blows.  Hardly could
 you have rule over others.  Thus, the first part of the monk's
 statement, "For how shall I be able to rule over others," has
 within it the implicit meaning of the first part of our Rede,
 "An' it harm none."  what the monk is saying here is, "How can I
 be responsible for someone else until I can be responsible for
 myself?"  It would be interesting to further press this
 declaration because it stands in contradiction to some classical
 Judeo-Christian concepts concerning man's responsibility to God. 
 And that, no doubt, is the reason Rabelais did not do it. 
 Remember what happened to his printer!
 However, Crowley did press the issue another step.  If
 self-responsibility is the Law, then Man is responsible for
 himself and God is responsible for Himself.  So, the interplay
 between God and Man suddenly is changed; god must be God and man
 must be Man.  And now we are back to where we said we were in our
 brief discussion of sin...Man can only be man, he can be nothing
 else.  But he is responsible for that.
 I hope all of us see in some way the very deep and even mystical
 and certainly always constant ethical demands placed upon us by
 our Rede.  The Rede is demanding but it yields freedom from the
 chronic guilt of the past twenty centuries.  And it does not
 leave us the luxury of a cop-out, be it God, Satan, Karma, Fate
 or a white mule beside a red barn (the mule counts two points).
 In this topic I use the term "World View" to mean how we, as
 Neopagans, see the material creation around us.  I know I already
 have intimated a great deal about this in previous topics but
 there is such a fundamental difference between us and the rest of
 Western society that I believe we must deal with it more
 directly.  To do this, we will work from two premises:
 1.    That Christianity has taught, objectively and subjectively,
 material creation somehow is "bad, sinful, evil and corruptive"
 as opposed to the so-called pure spiritual creation.  that the
 Earth, a material creation, is only a way-station toward some
 higher spiritual creation, be it heaven or hell, and that this
 earthly creation eventually will be destroyed come the
 Millenia/Last Judgement as it must be because it is "sinful" and
 corruptive of spiritual man.
 2.    That Neopaganism teaches there is no division between
 material and spiritual creation and neither can be considered
 inherently good or bad, pure or corruptive.  that the Earth is
 our home, our only home, and is not some battle ground designed
 to determine our future existence in a spiritual heaven or hell.
 There are deep-rooted implications behind these two differing
 points of view.  In the first case, because the material creation
 in which we live and are "tested" is somehow inferior and sinful
 and is only a way-station en route to a "higher" spiritual
 creation then we are free to despise and abuse this material
 creation as we see fit.  "Yours is the Earth and everything in
 it."  Love Canal, then, has a perfectly sound and reasonable
 Judeo-Christian premise.  However, in the second case, if we, as
 part of general creation, abuse our Earth, we are abusing
 ourselves, exactly as Love Canal had demonstrated.  And we must
 at the end finally admit the ecological frustration and fury of
 this age is because the whimpering ecologists and the Sierra Club
 have no theology to guide them...only guilt.  The Judeo-Christian
 trip all over again.  I'm sure we stand in a much better
 But don't make the mistake of thinking planetary plunder is an
 invention of the 20th Century and its technology...far from it. 
 Man has abused his Earth since pre-historic times.  Primitive
 farming and herding practices are among the most destructive
 ecological force know.  The stripping of the Mediterranean Basin
 is ample proof.  So is the collapse of the one great Mayan
 civilization and the fact that once heavily forested Scotland was
 forced to import timber for the Baltic as early as the Middle
 Ages.  Indeed, we might well argue the concept of a "sinful"
 material creation with its implicit license to ravage had to be
 invented to excuse the earthly pillage that had been going on for
 several thousand years.
 I sometimes refer to reincarnation as "the secret belief" because
 any number of Christians have admitted to me they believe in
 reincarnation as opposed to orthodox Christian teaching or had
 had experiences which can only be interpreted as a reincarnitave
 experience.  whether these people actually understand what
 reincarnation really is may be open to question.
 At the outset, then, let's establish the very essential
 difference between reincarnation and resurrection, as taught in
 Christian doctrine.  Resurrection means at some future time, the
 Millenia, the Last Judgement, etc. you will be pulled from the
 grave intact in your present body and you will be in full
 awareness of yourself and your previous earthly life; that is,
 you will retain your personal identity.  thus, with your present
 body and personal identity you may be meaningfully rewarded in
 Heaven or amply punished in Hell.  Heaven and Hell have no
 meaning and no promise or threat unless these conditions of body
 and identity are met.  What good would it be to punish or reward
 a disembodied spirit with no knowledge of what it was being
 praised or punished for?
 Our concept of reincarnation does not meet either of these
 criteria.  Reincarnation, unlike resurrection, does not
 automatically imply ultimate survival of the physical body and
 retention of personal identity.  So, any discussion of a Pagan
 heaven or hell is simply meaningless.
 What reincarnation says is survival of life-energy and
 life-energy has no one body and no one identity.  One of the best
 examples to illustrate this concept of reincarnation is the later
 stage of the Osiris-Horus myth.  In this myth, Osiris is killed
 by Seth but he is reincarnated as the child Horus and, in various
 forms, the myth repeats.  There is no indication Horus ever
 remembers himself as Osiris.  thus it is with us, sometimes we
 have a sort of "leakage" across this reincarnation insulator and,
 with some exceptions, the best we ever get are only
 picture-postcard glimpses of our previous life-energies.
 Eschatology is only a fancy word for the study of "last
 things"...that is, death, the Last Judgement, and so forth.  For
 us, eschatology must have an entirely different meaning because
 we really have no "last things."  We are involved in cycles, not
 beginnings and endings.  As Pagans we must view the entire
 continuum of matter, energy, life force and even time itself as
 circular.  We do not see these things as a piece of string with a
 beginning and an ending but as that same piece of string tied
 together to form a circle...our Circle...a repeating cyclical
 Although definitive physical proof still is lacking, there is a
 growing belief among some astronomers and astro-physicists that
 the expanding galaxies of our creation will one day stop their
 head-long flight and by mutual gravitation slowly and then faster
 and faster plunge back together again to form a new primal
 super-molecule world egg.  From there, it is only reasonable to
 assume the creative urge of our Goddess once more will explode
 this primordial egg to begin a fresh creation.
 And, thus, we have come full circle.

Next: Pagan Musings (Tony Kelly, Selene Community, Wales,1970)