As the Summer turns towards Fall and the coming harvest, it’s important to remember those whose share of Demeter’s bounty is limited by poverty, war, and other circumstances. On October 2, 2011, Crossroads Tabernacle Church is joining the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in the annual CROP Walk, and we hope that you can join us, by either walking with us or pledging your financial support.
As you’ve probably read recently, there are some groups out there trying to literally demonize Pagans. These groups are engaging in “Spiritual Warfare” and depicting Pagans (among others) as being undeserving of Constitutional protection and equal rights under the law. By participating in the CROP walk, by either walking or donating even five dollars, you help to counter hate with love, raise awareness that Pagans care about our community and that hunger is a concern for people of all faiths, regardless of creed. As Pagans, we understand that all life is interconnected, and that what harms another harms ourselves. By coming together for the CROP Walk, we quite literally “walk the walk” in a positive and life-affirming way.
One out of every seven people in the world goes hungry every day. 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes globally. If you took the people who don’t have enough to eat in the U.S. alone and put them in a line, that line would stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back–twice!
The CROP walk helps to fight hunger, both globally and locally. 25% of the money raised in this CROP walk will stay right here in Michigan, helping local food pantries, soup kitchens and other hunger programs. The other 75% goes to help ease hunger around the globe through grassroots, hunger-fighting development efforts. Also, all of the non-perishable food items collected go to local food pantries and programs to feed the hungry.
You can visit our team page at http://www.churchworldservice.org/goto/crossroadsatc to learn more about the Washtenaw County walk as well as to join our team as a walker (click the “join team” link next to our name). You can also visit that page to pledge your financial support, either directly with a credit card, or by mail with a check. (We can also accept cash or check donations directly in person).
We look forward to walking with you to end hunger.
Gnosis (noh-sis) . Knowledge or insight into the Divine. In Wicca as well as most other Pagan faiths, the pursuit of Gnosis is an admirable goal; indeed some people feel it is the main goal. There are two major ways that such knowledge can be achieved: research and revelation.
Personal Gnosis, then, is simply the attainment of a new understanding of the Divine by revelation. Through dreams, rituals, or some other means you receive a message from the Gods, or a God(dess), that somehow improves your understanding of Them and brings you closer to Them.
What is the role of Personal Gnosis in Wicca? Wicca is not strictly speaking a reconstructionist faith. Most claims of unbroken descent from ancient tradition have been disproven and modern Wicca can largely considered to be based on Ceremonial Magic, with a healthy dose of Shamanism and respectful recreation from a number of different cultures. There is room in Wicca therefore for Personal Gnosis—provided it is handled correctly and respectfully.
Personal Gnosis is just that: personal. It is a gift from the Divine to you, a gift of understanding. To me, it has always been a call to research, to further understand the knowledge that has been given to me. By further understanding Their history, myths, and meaning, my relationship with the Deity that has touched me is deepened.
For instance, as a very young boy I was introduced to the myth of Demeter and Persephone. As is usual in this story, Persephone was depicted as a guileless innocent, stolen away by the Dark Lord and forced to be His bride. (Simplistic, I know, but I was young!) From the moment I first heard that story, I knew it was incomplete. My own Personal Gnosis at that time was the understanding that there was more to the story. It wasn’t until I was older that I turned up more complete versions of the myth, where Persephone’s true role was more clearly revealed. My understanding grew, not only of Her and Her mythology, but of Demeter, Hekatee, the Dark Lord, and many other things as well. This insight led me to a greater understanding of the Divine and to a closer relationship with the Gods that I follow.
Sometimes you will find that your Personal Gnosis cannot be connected to what is known historically. This does not make it invalid, any more than your Personal Gnosis makes historical knowledge wrong. What it does mean is that your Gnosis, your understanding of the Divine, is in fact personal. Each of us must come to an understanding of the Divine in a way that meets the spiritual needs of our Higher Selves; just as my needs do not match yours, my understanding of Divine Nature must also be different. You may wish to share your unique insight with others, and that’s okay. It may well prompt someone else to their own insights! Keep in mind, however, that others have different needs, and may have a different understanding than what you are sharing.
For instance, the ATC holds a Spring Mysteries Festival in Seattle every year, during which several of the Clergy invoke various members of the Greek pantheon, spending the entire weekend incarnated as them. This includes dressing as them, as well. Some years ago, the priest that was dedicated to Apollo for the festival (one of the requirements is that you dedicate to that specific deity’s service for a year and a day) had a dream where Apollo appeared to him bald, and indicated that he should similarly be so while invoked. Since then, most if not all of the people who serve Apollo for that festival have been bald, and usually stay that way throughout their service to Him. They do not claim that a bald Apollo is some new universal truth; you will never find a statue to Apollo that is bald, nor is He ever described as such in the myths. Believe me, however, that when you stand before a bald Priest of Apollo fully invoked at Spring Mysteries, you will have no doubt that you are in the presence of the God. Baldness has become a part of their understanding of the God, one that they are willing to share with others, but do not demand that others agree with.
Personal Gnosis is not a way to justify your beliefs to others, to force them to your point of view. Nor is it merely a figment of your imagination, to be discarded simply because there’s no historical precedent. Personal Gnosis is a tool of personal discovery, a way and a call to increase your understanding of the Divine, and to become closer to Them by doing so.