Are Prayers and Spell-Casting the Same?

Via Brittney, I find Jeffrey asking

In a recent conversation, a new acquaintance of mine said something to the affect of, “Religion only divides the spiritual, but it is all the same essence.” She meant that whether you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, etc, we’re all talking about the same essence.

Personally, I call that essence “God” and believe with every fiber of my being that he is Love.

So what do you think? Is a Wiccan’s spell and a Christian’s prayer really the same thing? Why or why not?

I’m going to take a crack at this and answer no. A Wiccan’s spell and a Christian’s prayer are not the same thing. For starters, we can know this based just on how offensive Wiccans find it to be prayed for and how shocked an appalled most Christians would find it to have a spell cast on them, even if it were for their own good.

Christians pray to God for a lot of reasons, but let’s say that we have a friend who is sick.

Christians pray to God for healing for that sick friend. But it is God who must do the healing, if that is in accordance to His will.

A polytheist such as myself might pray to some other god, but again on the belief that the god is the one with the power to do what ordinary humans cannot.

A spell doesn’t need divine interference. I could right now cast a spell on my sick friend and, if my will was strong enough and my power strong enough, I could, presumably, heal her. No god needs to be involved in that. Now, I could involve a god, asking that god to strengthen my spell with his or her power, but that’s not necessary.

I think what’s going on here is a two-fold problem. One is that Wicca is, for all practical purposes two religions. There’s the folks who follow a specific path that can be traced back to Gardner, who, though not traditional Witches, seem to have a spark of the ancient and dangerous about them. Perhaps it comes from standing too close to Crowley at parties, I don’t know*. And then you have the “Wicca” as put forth by authors like Silver RavenWolf, popularized by “Charmed” and “The Craft” and practiced by, primarily, young women who eventually grow out of it and either return to Christianity or move on to more hardcore paganism.

The only people who could, in good conscious, call a spell something akin to a prayer are either folks who are trying to simplify matters in order to keep Christians from freaking out, or folks who really don’t understand yet what a spell is or how to works. So, when I read a self-proclaimed Wiccan describing a spell as, in part, “a set of prayers,” I assume she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Again, a prayer is asking for the intercession of the Divine to do something you can’t do. A spell is a means by which you can do something that, obviously, you can do.

But let’s take a close look at the second assumption there: “She meant that whether you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, etc, we’re all talking about the same essence.”

Is this true? I guess it would be nice if we could boil all spirituality down to being basically the same thing, but again, when folk say that, I assume they either are trying to make life easier for themselves or that they just don’t know a whole lot about other religions.

Again, to go back to what I know, I’m a polytheist. I believe that there are a lot of gods and that, though some of them are clearly just different names for the same gods–Goden, Wotan, Odhinn, etc.–Odin is not Zeus, even if they both have bushy white beards and sit at the heads of their pantheons. And neither of them is Ganesh. What is the common essence they could be reduced to?

Love?

Not really.

In order to find some commonality between the three, you have to stretch the notion of who they are so thin as to practically lose it.  It’d only be worse one you started adding other gods in.

I think that’s my problem with these kinds of discussions.  The people involved mean well and wanting to find some way for us all to feel ecumenical and good about how we’re all just putting different wrapping paper on the same spiritual present is sweet, but it’s just not possible.

All spirituality doesn’t fit in the same framework.  More specifically, it’s not all Christianity in disguise and I guess that that’s my main problem.  To say “Personally, I call that essence ‘God’ and believe with every fiber of my being that he is Love“sounds to me like saying “at heart, you all believe like I do, you just don’t know it.”

But I do know what I believe and I have, in the past, believed something else, and I can tell you they’re very different and not really compatible.  That doesn’t prevent me from getting along with others, but I think saying they’re all the same at heart is simplistic to the point of being insulting**.

Anyway, it’s an interesting question.  And my answer probably points to my impatience with a certain strain of Wicca.  Hmm.  I’ll have to think on that some.   I don’t think of myself as having some kind of anti-Wiccan bias around here, but maybe I do.

*Joking! Just joking.

**Even though I hope it’s clear that I don’t believe anyone’s being deliberately insulting.

42 thoughts on “Are Prayers and Spell-Casting the Same?

  1. More specifically, it’s not all Christianity in disguise

    But I still stubbornly cling to my thesis that much of Christian worship practice is various forms of paganism in disguise. I went into it more over at Jeffrey’s blog, so I won’t repeat myself churlishly here.

    I think the essence of Christianiy is a mystical simplicity but in our human craving for ritual we Christians have grafted essentially unnecessary ceremonies onto our communications with the Divine. (Few phrases make me as cranky as “Every head bowed and every eye closed” as a command for entering into prayer with God. It’s not in the Bible. It’s just something we do culturally. Don’t tell me how to pray, dude.)

    And then you have the “Wicca” as put forth by authors like Silver RavenWolf, popularized by “Charmed” and “The Craft” and practiced by, primarily, young women who eventually grow out of it and either return to Christianity or move on to more hardcore paganism.

    I have a very good friend who calls this WBicca, because the practitioners are all influenced by WB shows. ;-p It’s pronounced “Woo-Bicca”, and it cracks me up whenever she says it.

    I often wear my Celtic Triqueta, as it has both a strong Christian meaning and a hearkening to the Feminine Divine from pre-Christian Celtic tradition. Yet I’ve had more than one WBicca practitioner ooo and ahhh over it, completely ignorant of either meaning from each tradition. One even went so far as to say that it looked like “decorations from Charmed”.

    I’m bothered that most people raised in the Church fail to understand the reality of symbols and ritual as practiced within and without the Church.

    Sorry. I’m on one of my Mystic tangents again.

  2. Mmm. There are analytical frameworks that can encompass the two types pretty well. You wouldn’t like them any better, though. They generally start along the lines of “there’s some level of reality / Divine Realm / energy field / Mystical Stuff out there that most of us don’t have (direct) access to in daily life. By performing certain rites or thinking in certain ways, we may (sometimes) access or influence that reality/divinity/energy/stuff.” from there, you’ve got: “This reality/divinity/energy/stuff has a complex nautre, and some people call that “God” and some people break it up into littler Gods, and yet other people see it as spirits or universal will or fluctuations in the aether. People all have innate ties to this reality/divinity/energy/stuff, as it encompasses and engenders us. Doing the right things, whatever those right things are for you, lets you get what you want.” So people who pray to God and for whom the framework truly fits will have their prayers answered (even with “no”), and people who seek to cast spells will have their spells fly off (even if they fail). This particular framework circumvents the internal/external issue, as we’re all connected to or a part of the reality/divinity/energy/stuff; whether you direct your energy indirectly outward (pouring out at God to have your will worked) or directly (pushing at the reality/divinity/energy/stuff to have your will worked), the gist is the same.

    That, of course, is rather clearly heretical to just about anybody who cares to listen. (And a pretty common basic framework for fantasy novels) But it’s interesting, no?

    (On a completely random note, I met one of Silver RavenWolf’s acolytes/disciples or whatever they call themselves once. She was my bunkmate at church camp, and told some fairly amusing stories… most of which are lost to time now, as this happened when I was… eleven? twelve?)

  3. One even went so far as to say that it looked like “decorations from Charmed”.

    On another random note, it actually is one of the decorations in Charmed. It’s clearly emblazoned across the front of their Book of Shadows, and makes an appearance in the credits. Your WBiccan was not only ill-informed, but kind of unobservant as well.

  4. Pingback: The Gospel of Ka-Ching « Just Another Pretty Farce

  5. But it’s interesting, no?

    It’s especially interesting in how common it’s become in the fantasy fiction of Upper-class British and most American writers. People who grow up with a sense of being able to dictate their circumstance OR a sense of others being able to dictate to circumstance generally like to create these alternate worlds where the same thing happens. I won’t go all off on how Harry Potter empirically differs from WBicca in this respect, because that’s more of a long conversation for a literary group. But I will say that it’s obvious from the repeating themes in fictional accounts of the Craft or paraCraft that the authors create a world whereby the God or Craft is submissive to the practitioner. Neither actual Wiccans nor actual Christians believe this to be the case.

    She was my bunkmate at church camp, and told some fairly amusing stories… most of which are lost to time now, as this happened when I was… eleven? twelve?

    Aren’t all Silver RavenWolf’s acolytes eleven or twelve year old girls?

    On another random note, it actually is one of the decorations in Charmed.

    Heh. Never having seen even ten seconds of the show, I had no idea, but I’d have been surprised if a Triqueta didn’t make an appearance there. It IS a show about three witches, after all. I’m still amused that–afer reading the linked entry about the power and mutations of the Triqueta in the show–that she would refer to it as a “decoration”.

  6. “All spirituality doesn’t fit in the same framework. More specifically, it’s not all Christianity in disguise and I guess that that’s my main problem. To say “Personally, I call that essence ‘God’ and believe with every fiber of my being that he is Love“sounds to me like saying “at heart, you all believe like I do, you just don’t know it.”

    I completely see how one could interpret my statement as such. However, I do not feel that everyone unknowingly believes as I do…though that assessment did make me laugh when I read it ;-).

    My own beliefs have been undergoing many many changes over the last year or so and, frankly, I wouldn’t know how to voice what I “believe” other than to say what I said…that I believe in a God who is complete and utter Love. I believe that we are his/her/it’s/whatever’s very essence. I believe that there is no more powerful force in the universe than Love, and that to act otherwise is simply to do so in ignorance of our true selves (which, btw, is something I fall prey to daily).

    I hope that maybe that at least brings some amount of clarity to the motives of my original post…at the very least. Does it?

  7. Aren’t all Silver RavenWolf’s acolytes eleven or twelve year old girls?

    *snorts* Touché. Though this one did claim to have physically met/studied with her, for a time.

    Heh. Never having seen even ten seconds of the show, I had no idea, but I’d have been surprised if a Triqueta didn’t make an appearance there. It IS a show about three witches, after all. I’m still amused that–afer reading the linked entry about the power and mutations of the Triqueta in the show–that she would refer to it as a “decoration”

    I thought that was weird too. I mean, yes, it was used decoratively… but it was also a Really Big Thing. For instance, in one of the episodes where the girls are… separated? killed? evil? (They were real refrigerator friendly on that show…), the triquetra flies apart on the cover, indicating that their bond is broken.

    And… geekery aside, paintings are decorations; symbols are symbols. Unless they had a giant triquetra tapestry hanging in the manor(or your observer was really dumb clueless), wouldn’t one more commonly refer to it as a symbol?

  8. that I believe in a God who is complete and utter Love.

    Which is fine, but that’s sort of like grabbing the trunk of the elephant and exclaiming that you believe in a snake. There is so much to God on so many levels that we finite cannot reduce the infinite, larger God to such a smallness.

    I believe that we are his/her/it’s/whatever’s very essence.

    Then do you believe that God exists apart from us? By saying we are God’s very essence are you saying that all of God is found in us? If so, I’m incredibly sorry for God, because that doesn’t speak very highly for God on God’s resume.

    I believe that there is no more powerful force in the universe than Love

    But what is love? There are many facets and manifestations of Love–as though Love itself were yet another elephant. Do you believe in the Love that chastens as well as the Love that creates? Or do you only believe in the “good” aspects of Love?

    My own beliefs have been undergoing many many changes over the last year or so and, frankly, I wouldn’t know how to voice what I “believe” other than to say what I said…

    Would you then call yourself a Christian or have you moved away from that?

    Though this one did claim to have physically met/studied with her, for a time.

    Five bucks says it was a book signing at the B.Dalton’s in the mall next to Sbarro.

    geekery aside, paintings are decorations; symbols are symbols

    Yeah, but who among those that take religious instruction from TV shows starring Shannen Doherty would really get the difference? I don’t know why it bugs me but it does…this idea that symbols are mere props to entertainment and don’t have any sort of deeper meaning. Granted, I’ve got too many years of semiotics under my belt and too few minutes of patience for tomfoolery but honestly. That’s the curse of the mystic–to see power in incantations and symbols that other people think are merely cool decorations on TV.

    FTR, the remark came from a teenage girl who was maybe 13 or 14.

  9. Though this one did claim to have physically met/studied with her, for a time.

    Five bucks says it was a book signing at the B.Dalton’s in the mall next to Sbarro.

    Ha! Probably. Her chosen craft name has “Angel” somewhere in it.

    Yeah, but who among those that take religious instruction from TV shows starring Shannen Doherty would really get the difference? I don’t know why it bugs me but it does…this idea that symbols are mere props to entertainment and don’t have any sort of deeper meaning. Granted, I’ve got too many years of semiotics under my belt and too few minutes of patience for tomfoolery but honestly. That’s the curse of the mystic–to see power in incantations and symbols that other people think are merely cool decorations on TV.

    I kind of feel this way about feminist/progressive/antiracist stuff. I have a much better grasp on why certain things bother me now than I did before… but responding to an overbearing coworker insisting that one “smile” (or greet him by name even when he’s in another conversation, or reword the greeting that you did give him to be friendlier/cheerier, or who refuses to let one pass through a door or other confined space without stopping and paying explicit attention…) with rants about how your body doesn’t exist for his pleasure doesn’t really work out too well.

    Now that I’d know, or anything. (Heh, I actually just ranted at my mom about it for a while instead. I don’t particularly want to talk to this coworker at all, even enough to lecture him about his behavior.)

    But yeah… it’s hard to look at things that are important to you and realize that other people are using them as… toys. Or that they know they’re important or complicated or useful (the PC language debate, anyone?), but they just don’t care.

  10. Jeffrey, Oh, no I totally got that you were just asking hard questions and answering them for yourself. I was doing the same. If we’d been sharing a beer, it would have been the moment where I sat back in my chair and looked off at the television. It would have been clearer that you provoked deep thought in me, but that I wasn’t specifically addressing any problem with you, just trying to figure out for myself where I stood on that.

    Coble, I think what you’ve reminded me is that a.) I still need to find a good book on the Golden Dawn to read and haven’t gotten around to it and b.) that I might claim Crowley as the most influential thinker of the 20th century at the end of the day. “Do what thou wilt” has had an enormous and unacknowledged influence on most religious movements.

    At least, to me, that’s what I see in the whole pray your way to prosperity movement and the whole ask and ye shall receive… how did you put it? God as vending machine that occassionally eats your change… that seems to me to be straight out of Crowley–trying to purify and focus one’s will so that it is aligned with the Universe and thus capable of bending the Univerrse to it.

  11. I might claim Crowley as the most influential thinker of the 20th century at the end of the day.

    Was Crowley the influentialist or the reactionary? Because I don’t see Crowley as any more than someone with a strong finger on the pulse of his time and a knack for summing up what people wanted to hear and experience. He was nouveau riche British at the waning of the Empire, coming of age in that spiritualist fervour and combining the trend toward spiritualism with the British mythology of God being an Englishman. The English believed that for so long, and it was so hard to come to terms with their very ordinariness after all the generations of spanning the globe that I think Crowley’s post-Victorian claims toward taming the Spiritual universe sat very nicely with the British psyche. He was able to combine self-determinism, domination of the universe and the quest for pleasure in such a way to appeal to the intellectuals of the time.

    As for good books about the HoGD, I’ve read so many–good and bad–that they all blend together at this point. I did like the Women of the Golden Dawn, but, as you’d imagine, there was not much about Crowley in there.

    “Do what thou wilt” has had an enormous and unacknowledged influence on most religious movements.

    And political ones. Much of libertarianism smacks of Crowley. Of course, don’t quote me on that.

  12. Oh, yes, good point. No, I don’t see Crowley as some kind of great visionary. But yes, I think he was able to articulate and put together things in a way that did make it almost irresistable to certain folks.

  13. Kat,
    Respectfully, I don’t personally feel that believing God is complete, utter, and unconditional Love is a over-simplified reduction in the least. I (not speaking for anyone else) feel that Love, in and of itself, is complex, mysterious, and infinite altogether. Such is this reason that I shall not even attempt to answer your next question of “What is Love”? Obviously, one could describe various manifestations of love, as you’ve above noted, but surely not define it adequately.

    Do I believe that Love both chastens and creates? I suppose I don’t…at least not in the traditional Christian understanding any longer. I believe that Love reveals where we fail to live, act, and exist in it’s fullness. Could that be viewed as chastening? Perhaps so.

    You also asked if I would still call myself a Christian. Not to play semantics, but before answering that question recently, I’ve begun to ask people what they believe a Christian to be. Depending on their answer, I may or may not be one…to them.

    Aunt B.,
    thanks for clarifying that for me. I love to think and constructively discuss difficult questions that arise. Like you, I would much rather be discussing it in person over a beer and puffing on my pipe as I ponder others’ insights. thanks for challenging me to further thought…and likewise to you too K-Co.

    (that sounded like a close to the discussion, but I hope it will not be, as I did not intend it so.)

    great convo today/night ladies.

  14. I’ve begun to ask people what they believe a Christian to be.

    Well, okay then.

    A Christian, for the sake of operational definition in this discussion, would be a person who believes in the Holy Trinity as God the three-in-one, the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ for the remission of sins, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all who undertake the choice to follow the Way of the Christ.

    I believe that Love reveals where we fail to live, act, and exist in it’s fullness. Could that be viewed as chastening? Perhaps so.

    Well, yes, that ‘could be viewed’ as chastening, seeing as how that’s the very definition of chastening, which means ‘to purify’. Granted, it’s developed a negative connotation, as most people confuse ‘chasten’ (to purify) with ‘castigate’ (to sternly rebuke). They do have a similar root in Latin, but there’s a reason the original Latin has mutated into the two later forms.

    Respectfully, I don’t personally feel that believing God is complete, utter, and unconditional Love is a over-simplified reduction in the least.

    Okay, but I do. I think God is all those things, but more. God is also Wisdom. And Origin. And Logos. The Bible tells us that God is Love. But not only Love. The Bible also says In the Beginning was The Word, where “Word” translates as “logos” or “Wisdom” or “origin of reason.” Personally I believe that God is Greater than All. God is God and can take care of God’s self. To me, any belief in God that translates to nothing more than an earthly concept is a woeful shortchanging of the unknowable majesty that is God. If we say “God is Love” then to me that puts God in a box we know as “love” and doesn’t leave any room for the Mystery. We cannot know all of God.

  15. Does one have to be a Trinitarian to be a Christian? That’s going to be a shocker to Unitarians who believe in Christ and redemption through Christ’s life, suffering, and death. What would such people be called if not Christians? (The easy answer here would be “heretics,” I guess.)

  16. Let me take this response line-by-line. You said a Christian is:
    “a person who believes in the Holy Trinity as God the three-in-one”
    I don’t believe there are separate persons of the trinity. I do, however, believe that God manifests himself to us in many ways. One way being in the spiritual realm (Holy Spirit?), another through other people (Jesus?). I believe that God’s spirit/essence/LIFE is present in everyone and hence, can be experienced through everyone.

    Colossians 1:27 says, (and here’s some mystic stuff for ya ;-)) “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”

    Another time Jesus replied to the Pharisees, “”The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

    …”the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ for the remission of sins”
    I believe that there are two realities we live can live in. One is the true reality of ourselves on our world, the other is false and fake. Personally I feel as if we, often unknowingly, live most of our lives in the false. I think Jesus, however, lived in constant connection with the REAL, with God, with Love, and came to show us that we too (as he taught) have the faculty to live in such connection with and conscious awareness of God.

    Obviously, I’ve tried to make myself as brief as possible, without much avail, but I would most definitely need to explain further as I’m sure in this summation there are a great many holes that I’ve left uncovered.

    Sorry for the length of the comment…blah.

    Let me also say Kat, that I don’t think that people who view it differently are “wrong” or even that I’m “more right”. I just realize that we see it differently, and that’s ok with me. I totally respect the way you view God…and anyone’s view, for that matter, who believe something b/c they’ve thought about it, wrestled with it, and meditated on it–rather that just accepting what mommy and daddy or their preacher told them was true without questioning it themselves.

  17. Does one have to be a Trinitarian to be a Christian? That’s going to be a shocker to Unitarians who believe in Christ and redemption through Christ’s life, suffering, and death.

    uh, yeah…big red flag for me.

    I do believe in the Trinity; however, I do not believe that a person who does not is not a Christian.

    My simplistic explanation of the Trinity is sort of like how an egg is: the shell, the white, and the yolk…but it’s all one egg. Simple and yet complex. Real and yet a mystery.

    Kat, can you elaborate on your viewpoint regarding this? Fanks.

  18. I do believe in the Trinity; however, I do not believe that a person who does not is not a Christian.

    I don’t believe that those who do not believe that Jesus is God are Christians. I’m a stickler for the

    What would such people be called if not Christians?

    Unitarians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, etc.

    I do believe in the Trinity; however, I do not believe that a person who does not is not a Christian.

    Semantically speaking they aren’t. Unless you can think of a way that a person can be a “Follower of Christ” (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God-John 1:1) without believing that Christ, the Word, was God. The divinity of Christ is essential to the orthodox way.

  19. Is it Jesus of Nazareth or The Christ that indwelt him who is The Word?

    Again, back to the book of John:

    9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

    He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

    Seems fairly clear to me that if you accept Jesus as the Christ, you need to accept that He is God made flesh; the ultimate mystery.

  20. what then might it mean to say that we are IN Christ and He is IN us? Would that mean that the same Christ that indwelt Jesus and in so doing was made flesh, does the same over and over in every human?

  21. Ah, we’ve circled back around to something I feel qualified to stick my two-cents’ worth into. I think that part of talking about Christ in this way assumes a level of individuation from each other that is a particularly contemporary mindset. Clearly, the New Testament shows us a world in which the boundaries between living and dead were quite permeable and the boundaries between each of us were also. The bleeding woman had only to touch Jesus’ cloth to be healed. Demons could dwell in someone’s body with them. Etc. The body and the state of the body were not the same barriers we experience them as, I don’t think.

    This, I believe, is one of the roles of the mystic, to remind us of these other ways of understanding ourselves and our relationships to each other and to the Divine.

  22. The divinity of Christ is essential to the orthodox way.

    In my experience with those who do not believe in the Trinity, they do believe in the divinity of Christ. They believe Jesus Christ is God. A catch phrase I have heard them referred to is “Jesus Only”. Meaning God is the Son (Christ) only, not The Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.

    So Kat, are you saying those you have known of who do not believe in the Trinity do not believe Christ was/is God?

  23. Would that mean that the same Christ that indwelt Jesus and in so doing was made flesh, does the same over and over in every human? … to remind us of these other ways of understanding ourselves and our relationships to each other and to the Divine.

    We’re back to the critical importance of Trinity…the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit confuses people because “spirits” and Mystery in general confuse people. People are also confused because they don’t understand fully the power of Blood Magic. For people raised in the church “are you washed in the Blood” is often a rote recitation devoid of deeper meaning.

    woo-woo Christian Mysticism ahead

    The Christian Mystic tradition teaches that since Jesus was God made flesh, His blood was both pure and sacred. Judaic tradition prior to Jesus–and for some years after–practiced Blood Magic in the form of animal sacrifice. The God I Am of the Jews reviled human sacrfice, as humans were made in the image of God, having, like God a piece of eternity in the form of a soul. By tainting that soul with Original Sin, the human sacrifice was the most dirty and impure form, an abhorrence to God. Because Jesus was the vessel for the pure and sacred blood, His shedding of that blood was the ultimate sacrifice of blood magic ritual. It’s an oversimplification, but think of it as cleaning a swimming pool. By pouring just a little bit of chlorine into the pool, all of the vast water can be purified. Same thing with Christ’s Blood Sacrifice. It purifies all the blood. Because our blood is now pure, the Veil is torn, and the boundaries that existed between the spiritual and physical realm have been destroyed.

    That means that if you acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus–or jump in the pool, to continue the analogy–you are part of the pure blood. You are “in Christ” and “Christ is in you”.

    Pentecost is 50 days after Easter; ten days after ascension; seven weeks after Easter.

    All of these are powerful magic numbers. 50 is 5 sets of ten. Ten is the number of

    According to Kabbalistic cosmology, Ten Sefirot (literally, Ten Numerations) correspond to ten levels of creation. These levels of creation must not be understood as ten different “gods” but as ten different ways of revealing God, one per level. It is not God who changes but the ability to perceive God that changes.

    The number 5 is the number of Man–it is the symbol of the five senses and the Four Elements Plus Spirit. Five series of Tens is symbolic of Man’s Journey through the Ten Ways of Knowing God. Fifty Days.

    The number 7 is the number of God, and the symbol of perfection.

    Pentecost is the day of 7X7, plus Easter.

    All of this combined in the opening of the gate which allowed the Spirit of God to live among Man permanently. That Spirit is only possible through Christ’s Sacrifice. So that is how God is In Us and we are In God.

    end of Woo Woo

    A catch phrase I have heard them referred to is “Jesus Only”.

    Ah! Jesus-Only! I keep forgetting about them. Jesus-Only is very popular these days, for some reason it’s extremely popular among the name it/claim it people and the folks like the Weigh Down people. Yes, they call themselves Christians, and I suppose technically they are in that they follow Christ as divine, but by denying the Holy Spirit (see above), they deny the part of God which belongs to all of us. This forces us into a position of weakness, whereby we must forever seek Jesus, because we do not speak with His Spirit.

    you have known of who do not believe in the Trinity do not believe Christ was/is God

    Generally, yes. That’s how it’s been for years, but now there are all these Jesus-Only people around. I honestly forget about them, because every nontrinitarian I’ve met has been a disavower of the divinity of Jesus.

  24. Aunt B, I feel praying and casting spells when done for a purpose or for a certain outcome, as opposed to just ‘communing spiritually’, are the same, because they do come from the same ‘essence’ and that is mans desire for control in a world that continually threatens it. Perhaps even the communing-only aspect is of the same essence as well, which is the desire for Meaning and Connection. At least in that vein, it makes sense, no? Obviously, I am distilling this down to what I consider the bare bones of the matter, but maybe I am in error because, being ignorant of Wicca I am not understanding what spell-casting actually entails, but I always assumed it was like …’wishing with magic’ (???).

    Excuse me for jumping over the conversation, but as an atheist and someone who is woefull ignorant of most religions anyway, I couldnt contribute anything worthwhile, but I did want to comment about the post. Thanks.

  25. Hey, no problem. That’s one of the fun things, adding something, seeing where it leads. I guess I don’t think that prayer and casting spells are the same thing when distilled down; I think you can only understand them as the same thing if they’re substantially diluted. Does that make sense? To say that they’re “essentially” the same thing seems to me to say that they share a core that is alike. But to me, it seems the opposite, that they’re the same only in the most surface of ways.

    It’d be like saying that a chair and I are essentially alike because we sit in an office and both have legs.

  26. Ok, so then, where I look at the motivation behind the practice as the shared core, you see that as only binding them at the surface. I know you said that the diffence between the two is basically that one is asking for something that he cant accomplish on his own, where the other doesnt have to ask, but is doing that something on his own (with a spell). So, for claritys sake, do spells always work? Of course, if you are talking using medicine to help clear up an ailment, which was construed as spell-casting way back when, then yes. If spell-casting has an actual practical application, then I see your point. If it doesnt, I dont.

  27. I think B is saying that spell-casting is doing/making something, while prayer is asking for something. Like the difference between cooking dinner and asking to be fed. You might use a spatula or a frying pan to cook your dinner or you might use a spell, but either way you are doing the cooking.

  28. Do spells always work? Ha, you don’t ask small questions, do you? In my limited experience, I would answer that it depends on the spell and the way of the Universe. I think we can both agree that there is such a thing as cause and effect. I take an ax to a tree, the tree is going to fall down. One could try to cast a spell to keep that tree standing, but it’s you vs. cause & effect, and the laws of gravity. I would be shocked if that spell worked. But if you’re merely trying to influence the path that things in motion might take, then I believe that’s easier. You probably can’t prevent the tree from falling, but, if your spell is powerful enough, you could keep the tree from falling on you (presumably).

    I will say that the spells I have cast have been surprisingly effective and straight-forward in their effectiveness, which has made me much more wary and cautious about casting them.

  29. Ok, I see your perspective now.

    The difference then between spell-casters and prayers, is that one has (or is given?) the power to directly affect his enviroment and the other has to ask for another’s power to do so. One is more autonomous (maybe not the right word, but close) than the other.

    Do Wiccans believe all and every human has this power? Is it that there is an energy that all can share in? If so, isnt that kind of what Christians say about God and Jesus?

  30. Well, I should be clear, I’m not a Wiccan, so I don’t know for sure the intricacies of their beliefs. But I think it’s safe to say that most pagans believe that all people could, if they wanted to and were willing to learn how. But no, I don’t think we necessarily believe that there’s an energy all share in. “Magic,” for lack of a better term, is a practice or a skill, not a miraculous gift or superpower. Again, even though I think it’s counter-intuitive when one goes based on what one is taught by popular culture, but prayer involves accessing the Supernatural and invoking the help of something greater than you. Spells involve manipulating the natural and don’t always require accessing the Supernatural (though they can, clearly).

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  32. B, have you ever read the Ozark Fantasy Trilogy? It’s rather YA, but their premise is a delightful mingling of spells, Boolean logic, and transformational grammar. You might enjoy them.

  33. Yes, they call themselves Christians, and I suppose technically they are in that they follow Christ as divine, but by denying the Holy Spirit (see above), they deny the part of God which belongs to all of us.

    hmmmm…it just dawned on me that the ones I have known are contridictory in their thinking…they believe in “Jesus only” but then at the same time are very much about “the Holy Ghost” (i.e., UPC Pentecostals)

    Any insight on that one?

  34. it just dawned on me that the ones I have known are contridictory in their thinking…they believe in “Jesus only” but then at the same time are very much about “the Holy Ghost” (i.e., UPC Pentecostals)

    Yep. Okay, first to correct myself, it appears that they prefer to be called Oneness Pentecostals or “Jesus-Name” pentecostals, instead of Jesus Only. (I confused Jesus-Name with Jesus Only, and can never remember which is the ‘right’ designaton.)

    Basically they think that the Holy Spirit is part of Jesus but not a separate entity from Jesus.

    Where I and other Mystics differ from UPC teaching is partly in our belief in the Holy Ghost, whom we prefer to call the Holy Spirit. “Spirit” implies a distinct being, whereas “Ghost” usually means “the shadow of a person gone on ahead.” UPC/Oneness believe that since the Holy Ghost is actually another side of Jesus that a person isn’t “saved” unless they are filled with the Holy Ghost, and that in order to prove you’re filled with the Holy Ghost you need to speak in tongues. (I’m probably oversimplifying this, but that’s how it was taught to me at a school where Oneness theology was the primary doctrine for 3 years.)

    As I said above, Trinitarians (including most Trinitarian Mystics) believe that after the Day Of Pentecost the Holy Spirit exists to bind all Christians to the Godhead–that the Holy Spirit is the gift to everyone who accepts the way of the Christ.

    That’s why there’s such debate in the church over the merits of Glossalalia. If Glossalalia were just “speaking in tongues” and ‘another way to pray’ we most likely wouldn’t fight so hard over it. But most of the UPC/Oneness folk hold Glalia out as a requirement for salvation, essentially claiming that without it you aren’t saved. So the non-glalia folk fight back with “Oh yeah? Well your Glossalalia isn’t even REAL because true Glossalalia is…etc.”

    As a Mystic I believe that Glossalalia is real, but must be accompanied by an interpreter, whether that interpreter is another person in a congregation or you yourself are given the gift to interpret your prayer language on an interior, meditative level. But I in no way believe that it is a requirement of salvation any more than I’d believe that liking the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ is a requirement for salvation.

  35. As a Mystic I believe that Glossalalia is real, but must be accompanied by an interpreter, whether that interpreter is another person in a congregation or you yourself are given the gift to interpret your prayer language on an interior, meditative level. But I in no way believe that it is a requirement of salvation any more than I’d believe that liking the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ is a requirement for salvation.

    I pretty much feel this way about most specific actions/practices/phenomena in the church. They’re mostly real (or have a core of truth in them), but it isn’t required that we do it this way or that way to be right. That is – communion is a true sacrament, but whether you do it once in your life or once a month or at every service… that’s not so important. Same thing with whether you’re baptized as a child or an adult, or how the wedding ceremony is conducted, or how you pray.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t come really basic distinctions – belief in (one) God is kind of central (though as the thread shows, one might differ about what His nature is, the nature of the relationship between the Father/Son/Holy Spirit, and what to do about those things), and at least a nod to the Bible and most of the events in it. But I really like Aunt B’s dad’s questions: “What does this tell us about the nature of God? What does this tell us about the nature of man? What does this tell us about the relationship between the nature of God and the nature of man?” So… well, see above.

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