The Punk Priest

Dedication and Antinoüs

One of the things that bothers me about the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) is the Christian overtones to it. I know that might seem odd coming from a Christo-Pagan, but there it is. I’m still toying with the idea of writing one for the Tetrad++, and have begun work on one to my lord Antinoüs. The first step after reviewing the prayer card I have was to delve into The Syncretisms of Antinous by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. I got as far as the dedication page and then I was in tears. The dedication is:

To the youthful suicides,
Bill Clayton, Asher Brown,
Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh,
Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase,
Billy Lucas, Cody J. Barker,
Victims of hatred due to a hostile culture;
May their families have strength and peace,
May their spirits have rest and freedom,
May their memories never depart from the earth.

Someone will gather
garlands of lamented names
and will lament more
the youth of dying men.

Reading that dedication, and weeping for those names knowing that more names have been added to the list of Youthful Suicides since this book was published in 2010, I knew that it was right and proper for me to write an Antinoan LBRP. I will do this for them, and for me.

Hail, hail Antinoüs! Hail, hail Antinoüs!
This is where life comes from! Hail, hail Antinoüs!

A Love Letter To Transgender People From A Transgender Priest – Queer Theology

A Love Letter To Transgender People From A Transgender Priest – Queer Theology:

2ndhalfoflife:

transqueermediaexchange:

I see you slink down in your seat and hope to disappear. I see you.

I see you facing the dread of back to school shopping. Longing to
wear dresses and colors and instead being forced to wear the drab slacks
and button downs. Because no one knows who you really are and you can’t
tell them yet. But I see you and I know you.

I see you the first time you tighten that tie around your neck and
breathe deeply gathering up the courage to walk out the front door. I
see you when you have the courage to leave. And I see you when you take
the tie off and go watch TV instead.

I see you struggling to find words (and clothes) to match the gender
you are because your gender doesn’t fit in a world that separates
everything out and quantifies it in categories. I see you defying those
categories and I see you worry because of it.

I see you google “dating a transgender person” and reading article
after article about how hard it is to love someone like you. I see you
close the browser and delete your dating profile.

I see you working three jobs and starting a GoFundMe to help pay for
your transition. I see you hustling to have enough money to eat. I see
you feeling beaten down by everything.

I see you when you face violence. All types of violence: physical, emotional, spiritual.

I also see you when you claim your identity. I see you for your first
shot, as you’re coming out of gender confirming surgery, as you buy
clothing that fits you for the first time.

I see you as you march, holding the transgender flag. I see you as you fight, fist up, for your right to exist.

I see you getting up out of that pew and leaving that unaffirming church never to return. I see you finding a new community that welcomes you with open arms.

I see you asserting your identity by insisting that people use your name and pronouns.

I see you finding someone who loves you for who you are and who realizes what a gift you are in their lives.

I see you existing. And surviving. And thriving.

I want you to know that you are seen and loved just as you are. I
want you to know that you are not a disruption, a burden, or a
too-expensive-cost, no matter what the president says. No matter what
your pastor says. No matter what your parent says. No matter what your
ex-partner says. These things are not true.

What is true is this:

God loves you not in spite of your transness but because of it. God
has gifted you with your unique and beautiful identity. And God loves
you because of your identity.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Whether you choose to
medically transition or don’t. Whether you are binary identified or
nonbinary. Whether you “pass” or not.

You are beautiful just as you are. In all of your various identities.

You are needed. You are celebrated. You are a gift.

You are lovable and worthy and strong.

You are amazing. You are seen.

You are loved.

God had no gender. God transcends gender. God has all genders.

Twelve Dæmonic Steps: Choosing a Higher Power

One of the most basic challenges I’ve faced as I started 12 Step Spirituality has been in selecting which higher power to work with. Being a polytheist, I work with various higher powers: deities, dæmons, heroes, saints (of an uncommon kind) elemental spirits, guardian spirits, and spirit allies, to name a few categories. So, I have a lot of higher powers to choose from. But there’s another issue, too. Paganism can often be an ecstatic religion, with practices designed to be pleasing to the senses. Which of my gods and guardians could I turn to for help with moderation? Even Jesus was known to engage in wanton celebration now and then.

My first thought was Lucifer (Seriously, is there anyone who knows me who’s surprised by this?). He is both the Adversary and the Light-bringer. The compulsive behaviors I’m striving against could be seen as adversities, and I could surrender to his illumination to see what’s going wrong in my life. This has served me well in other areas of my life. But somehow, Lucifer didn’t seem the best choice.

My second instinct was Antinoüs the Healer. Again, this probably isn’t too much of a surprise to those who know me. These days it seems my personal Trinity is Antinoüs, Lucifer, and Melek Ta’us. In spite of Antinoüs’ role as a healer, he didn’t feel like the right choice either. What about Paneris All-Strife, the fifth being of the Tetrad++, or the Tetrad++ as a whole? No, that didn’t feel right either. How about Walwarwat, the guardian dæmon I scryed (more on that in another post)? While Walwarwat is a dæmon of protection, e still didn’t feel like the right choice.

The ideal being came to me when I finally hung the seals of the Guardian Dæmons in my room: Buer:

image

Buer is a great president of hell and, among other things, a healing spirit and is probably the Goetic dæmon of my coven, the Circle of Cerridwen.

Yes, the word “god” can be used as a variable in 12-step work. In fact, I usually use the word “GOD” in all capital letters to mean the whole of creation. So, was it really necessary for me to have a named being to work with for my higher power? No. Do I feel I derive some benefit from having a being I can name and visualize during my prayers and meditations? Yes.

And so, Buer will be my higher power as I work these Twelve Dæmonic Steps to manage my compulsion rather than being managed by it.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

Cursing the Transphobic

We draw the Circle…

To the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East and Air, the South and Fire, the West and Water, the North and Earth, the Center and Spirit; to my Gods and Dæmons and Guiding Spirits: BE HERE NOW.

  • To the Outdwellers and Hungry Ghosts: you are given license to remain within the Circle, but dare not interfere with my work lest you be separated from the Flame Imperishable and be forever entombed within the Grinding Ice.
  • I call Great Earl Halphas and his six and twenty legions: to your siege Towers go! “Armed, alert, and awake,” as the Oracle of the Silver Wheel sang. Furnish us with the weapons we need, and send us forth to the places appointed.
  • I call the Crimson King—who is known as Lucifer, the Light-bringer; who is known as The Adversary; who is Satan—arise and aid us as we bring adversity to those who would destroy us.
  • I call Pancrates All-Power and Paneris All-Strife, the fourth and fifth beings of the mighty Tetrad++—may all rejoice!—give us the determination to wield armaments of Great Earl Halphas and the adversity of the Crimson King.
  • I call Great Cæsar WALWARWAT—who is the Pangender Serpent, the wingéd snake with “golden skin and eyes of flame”—cover us with your protective wings, encircle us with your mighty coils, let us take refuge in your strength, O Beloved Progenitor.
  • I call Thánatos—who is the Angel of Death, the Giver of the Gift of Eternity.
  • I call Mary Magdalene—greatest of the disciples—give us the courage to let our intentions be known.
  • I call Yeshua—the Lamb who is the Destroyer—cast down the mighty and lift up the lowly. Make the first to be last, and the last to be first.

In the names of the Beloved Gender-expansive Ones, I come to the altar of Hell.

Behold the hate of those pretending to the title of Man:

Is your biggest fear a woman with a penis, or a man with a vagina, or a person with genitalia unlike what you expect to satisfy your pathetic lusts? Then into the Lake of Fire with you! May you be consumed with fear to the point of impotent anxiousness!

These lesser beings pretending to the title of Man want us to live in fear. In answer to that, we have a reading from the Fourth Book of the Incarnations of Immortality:

  • “Let there be war!”

In the names of the Beloved Gender-expansive Ones, I come to the shores of Purgatory.

These lesser beings pretending to the title of Man want us to live in fear. In answer to that, we have a reading from the prophet Frank Herbert:

  • “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

In the names of the Beloved Gender-expansive Ones, I come to the gates of Heaven.

These lesser beings pretending to the title of Man call openly for our torment and death.

Thánatos, I beseech you to withhold the Gift of Eternity for the Beloved Gender-expansive Ones for as long as possible. And if the deaths of our Beloveds cannot be forestalled, then into your arms we commend their spirits. Exalt and elevate them so that they be numbered among Themselves.

Mother Mary of Magdala, I ask that you grant us your courage to be ourselves in the face of such reckless hate.

Yeshua, you are the Lamb who is the Destroyer, but yours is also the hand that heals. Deliver us from our mortal destroyers, and care for us when our hearts become heavy with grief.

I ask all these things. I ask all these things and more. We have not chosen this conflict. Our choice is to resist in what ways we can, or be destroyed. And for those who cannot fight, I ask that they be protected and concealed from the villains that seek to destroy them.

By the Powers that are mine to command and the Powers that are mine to request aid from, so mote it be!

  • I thank my Gods and Dæmons and Guiding Spirits. Stay if you will, go if you must, in perfect love and in perfect trust.

  • To the Outdwellers and Hungry Ghosts, I give you license to depart. May there be peace between us, now and forever.

To the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the Center and Spirit, the North and the Earth, the West and Water, the South and Fire, the East and Air, I thank you for your presences. Hail, and farewell.

The Circle is open but unbroken, for we merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!

Sermon Reflection: Mystic Failures

Yesterday was Sunday, 18 June 2017: Father’s Day here in the US. It was also the first Sunday after Philando Castille’s killer was declared not guilty. It was also the a Sunday after yet another trans woman, Josie Berrios, was murdered. And the preacher at Grace North Church in Berkeley again preached about how wonderful the mystic victory of Christ on the Cross is for all of us. We have nothing to fear! That which oppresses us has been defeated!

To quote Benjamin “Yahtzee” Crowshaw, “What arbitrary silliness!

Philando Castille was shot to death while complying with all orders from the officer who killed him. Mr. Castille was following orders, retrieving his ID according to the commands given to him, and he was killed for his efforts.

No! That which oppressed him and countless others like him has not been defeated. Not in the least.

Josie Berrios was found dead and burned at a construction site, the 13th trans person of color murdered this year. Details are still forthcoming, but those details won’t change the fact that Ms. Berrios is the 13th trans person of color murdered this year.

No! That which oppressed her and dozen others before here, not to mention the countless others around the world and over the years, has not been defeated. Not in the least.

None of these shattered lives were mentioned by the pastor. They were mentioned by me during the Prayers of the People.

It is well past the time for Christian Mysticism. People are dying. People are suffering and dying due to the very real systems and hatreds and oppressions and marginalizations that exist here in the world. Christ delivers us from these? We need only trust in him and we’ll have that Great Reward in the hereafter? So what? That does nothing at all to address the suffering in the here-and-now. It does nothing to overturn the systems of oppression that are KILLING people—”the least of these”—every damned day.

Maybe there are those for whom the promise of eternal life after death is a comfort that allows them to endure their suffering here on Earth. But for many others, this promise leaves something to be desired. After I’m dead, I won’t suffer any more. To hear this as a person who lives with depression, it’s almost like suggesting I kill myself.

If Christianity is to be part of social change and social justice, then the churches and their pastors need to move mysticism to a secondary place, putting the practical theology of resistance and assistance in the forefront. Works might not buy salvation, but if you’re in Christianity for salvation, you’re doing it wrong anyway.

2017-06-12: Pulse One Year Later

My lord Antinoüs, I cry out to you! The memories are still fresh, even as I am aware of the passage of time. As Magistrate PSVL wrote, “Defeat every enemy of love!”

Antinoüs, I name you the Lord of the Beloved Dead. You govern the Afterworld of the Inverts, ruling in sweet justice with Saint Matthew Shepard, Saint Gwen Araujo, and Cloud of Queer Witnesses—May all rejoice! Truly those souls extinguished at Pulse on 12 June 2016 reside with you in glory. May all never forget!

Mother Mary Magdalene, you were the first of Yeshua’s Disciples to make your love known, on that fateful Third Day.

Mary Magdalene, I name you the Greatest Disciple. Give us the strength to make ourselves known in a world that just as soon subject us to modern-day crucifixion. You are the Bride of the Lamb, seated at the right hand of the right hand. Pray for us, and welcome us with open arms when we come to you at the end of our days.

May the Pulse 49 Rest in Power and Bask in Eternal Glory.
Ave, Antinoüs! Ave, Maria Magdalena!

A Curse for Protection

We
draw the circle…

To
the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, the West, the South,
the North, and the Center; to my gods and dæmons
and guiding spirits: BE HERE NOW.

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the altar of
Hell.

I
call Great Earl Halphas and his six and twenty legions: to your siege
Towers go! “Armed, alert, and awake,” as the Oracle of the Silver
Wheel sang. Furnish us with the weapons we need, and send us forth to
the places appointed.

I
call the Crimson King—who is known as Lucifer, the Light-bringer;
who is known as Be’elzebub; who is known as The Adversary; who is
Satan—arise and bring aid us as we bring adversity to those who
would destroy us.

Curse
them! I curse our would-be destroyers! These hypocrites! This den of
vipers! I curse all who would take our health from us! May they know
suffering many times greater than what they seek to force us to
endure. Curse them! May they feel the Lake of Fire here on this
world, here is this life!

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the shores of
Purgatory.

I
call Great Cæsar
WALWARWAT—who is the Pangender Serpent, the wingéd
snake with “golden skin and eyes of flame”—cover us with your
protective wings, encircle us with your mighty coils, let us take
refuge in your strength, O Beloved Progenitor.

I
call the Blue God—who is known as Melek Ta’us; who is known as
the Peacock Angel—your tears once quenched the fires of Hell. Weep
now, with us. Weep now, for us. May your holy tears extinguish the
flaming hatred of our assailants. May your holy tears soften their
hearts as steady water erodes rock.

I
call Antinoüs the
Healer—rejoice! This is where life comes from! O Divine Boy, heal
our troubled hearts; heal our troubled minds; heal our trouble nation
and protect those with the least from those with the most.

We
are betrayed. We are cast aside. Show us how to protect ourselves as
we strive to protect one another. We wade through the Lake of Fire
every day of our lives. Soothe us even as we are forged anew.

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the gates
of Heaven.

I
call Mary Magdalene—greatest of the disciples—give us the courage
to let our intentions be known.

I
call Yeshua—the Lamb who is the Destroyer—cast down the mighty
and lift up the lowly. Make the first to be last, and the last to be
first.

The
Trinity is of the Inverts, turning power structures upside down.
Guide those in power to see the harm that they cause. Guide them to
reverse this process of suffering and death.

By
all the powers that are mine to command and request aid from, may it
be so.

To
my guiding spirits and dæmons
and gods; to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the Center, the
North, the West, the South, and the East: I give you license to
depart. Stay if you will, go if you must, in perfect love and in
perfect trust. May there be peace between us, now and for ever.

We
open the circle.

Sermon Reflection: The Road to Emmaus

CONTENT WARNING: suicide, suicidal ideation

I grow weary of Christian mysticism.

This Sunday, the only church I went to was Grace North Church, and I was playing bass again this week. The Gospel reading was The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and I had a very difficult time following the preacher’s connection in his sermon illustration to the possible meaning(s) of this reading.

The sermon illustration revolved around the life, and death, of a man with depression who had been known to the pastor. This man’s life ended in suicide. The preacher spoke of the anger at this man’s funeral.

Weariness #1: I grow tired of hearing about how angry people are after somebody commits suicide.

Is it so difficult to have compassion for those who commit suicide? Just fucking imagine: if they’d been shown a little more fucking compassion during their lifetimes maybe they wouldn’t have fucking committed fucking suicide. Maybe if mental illness wasn’t so fucking stigmatized and fucking healthcare providers would understand that there a lot of things that can’t be fixed in six psychotherapy sessions, more people would be getting the fucking help they need to stay alive. Stop fucking blaming the suicidal. We grow weary of that.

The pastor went on to preach about how his generation, Generation X, wasn’t born into a culture in which the world had intrinsic value. Instead, his generation—my generation—had to manufacture reasons why the world had value. He also preached about how Barack Obama had said, “Hope is an audacious thing,” and how such a statement wouldn’t have made any sense “twenty years ago.”

Weariness #2: I grow tired of those who presume to speak for an entire generation.

I, too, am from Generation X. A great many of us recognize the intrinsic value of the world. Do not attempt to speak for me until you have asked me what I think and how I feel. Even then, do not dare to quote me out of context. Speak for yourself only, and refrain from making sweeping generalizations of entire segments of the population.

As a member of Generation X, the pastor should also remember that twenty years ago was at the tail end of the AIDS epidemic, an epidemic that ravaged my communities. The existence of this epidemic was praised by conservative so-called Christians as being “the gay cancer” and the plague mentioned in Revelation that had come to cleanse the world of homosexuals. Then, they realized straight people could get it too, but still blamed them gays. We had hope during those years, those decades. We had to. And our hope was every bit as audacious then as it was during Barack Obama’s campaign. Don’t erase the hell we’ve lived through for the sake of a sermon illustration.

The pastor preached about how if there was a greater foundation of religion in the lives of Generation X and the following generation, the Millennials, there would be less of a need for antidepressants.

Weariness #3: I grow tired of those who speak out against medications, especially psych medications.

This also ties into weariness #2, as once again the pastor made sweeping generalizations, not to mention he left Generation Y, the generation between GenX and the Millennials. And while he did mention using antidepressants in the past, he seemed to be implying that one could just pray one’s mental illness away. And, it’s not that GenX, GenY, and the Millennials lack religion and that’s why we use medications to help with our mental illnesses, it’s that we reject the suffering. While the quote, “God helps those who help themselves,” is not in the Bible, it’s one of the most powerful quotes out there. Those of us in GenX, as well as those in GenY and the Millennial generation, are seeking help for ourselves in the various ways that work best for us. Judge not.

He made some other comments that just didn’t make sense to me, such as asserting that beliefs can be proven. Um, no, that’s not necessarily true. Facts can be proven. Beliefs, especially religious beliefs, are the type that probably can’t be proven. That’s why we believe; that’s what faith is.

He also said that the promise of a Dead Man living again is the source of hope, and isn’t it a wonderful thing. “If a Dead Man can live, the impossible becomes possible.” Of course a Dead Man can live. That which is remembered never dies.

I grow weary of Christian mysticism. It offers great promises for after we’re dead, but leaves a great deal to be desired regarding the suffering in this life. Lack of faith isn’t what caused me to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, dermatillomania, and psychosis. Rather, the various forms judgmental abuse I deal with on a daily basis are the “adverse experiences” that have led to my mental illnesses. And for the healthcare-industrial complex apologizers: no, that’s not me making things up. That’s the professional opinions of the psychologist and psychiatrist I’m working with in order to stay the fuck alive.

If your Christian mysticism doesn’t lead to practical theology and works of faith, your mysticism is worthless to me. Maybe it’s time for me to find another church.

Amen, and Blessed be.

16 April 2017: Resurrection Sunday

[I feel I should apologize for the lateness of these Lenten posts. I’ve been prioritizing my self-care as my mental health has been quite poor lately. Thank you for bearing with me as I try to work up the motivation to write about these important days in the liturgical calendar.]

I started Resurrection Sunday worship at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the morning and finished at Grace North Church in the evening. This is one of the most important days, if not the most important day, in the Christian calendar.

Resurrection Sunday, commonly called Easter, is a story or rebirth. In fact, the word “Easter” comes from “Ēostare,” a month named for a Pagan goddess. Easter/Resurrection Sunday is a day of rebirth and fertility, as is Eostara. That which has lay dormant in the earth has sprung up in new life.

Being an adversarial theologian and a practical theologian, Easter is a difficult day for me to understand from the points of view of my theologies. The mystical victories that are joyously described seem to leave something to be desired, to me at least. When I encounter cissexism and heterosexism in my daily life, it can be very difficult to hear and believe that sin and fear and death have been defeated. Those victories serve to guarantee us our places in heaven, our life after death. But that doesn’t necessarily comfort those here on Earth for whom suffering is a way of life. That death will free us from suffering? No shit. Now, give me comfort for this life in the here-and-now.

The followers of Christ are the Body of Christ. So, it’s not just that He is risen. It’s also that We are risen. But, risen to what? Risen for what purpose? Well, it could be said that those of us who are out about our Marginalized Genders, Orientations, and Bodies (MOGAB) are risen to being visible so that our MOGAB identities will be normalized instead of marginalized. Those of us who are out about our mental illnesses are risen to being visible so that our illnesses are no longer stigmatized.

We are the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ. Christ is risen. We are Christ. We are risen.

Amen, and Blessed be.