Tag Archive for ST4R

The Church Exclusive

Well, it finally happened. Sunday, 15 October 2017, was the first time I walked out of a church while worship was in progress, leaving just after the sermon and before Communion. I’d had enough.

The Gospel lesson was Matthew 22:1-14, which ends with an improperly attired wedding guest being bound and cast into the utter darkness. I was really curious to see how the preacher was going to address this, as it seemed the message was, “Only the worthy are welcome.” Essentially, street people were called into the wedding, but there was one who wasn’t wearing a fine wedding robe. For this, the King cast him out. Wait … what? A street person didn’t have finery to wear and for that he was bound and cast out? Seriously, Jesus, WTF?

The preacher made it seem obvious this happened because this particular guest shunned the wedding robe he had been given. Yet, nowhere in these verses was there any mention of robes being handed out at the door. I even double-checked in my Oxford Annotated Bible when I got home, and there weren’t any notes about this being the custom of the time. Now, I’m sure this might seem like an opportunity for those who’ve had the privilege of biblical education to say, “It wouldn’t need to be in the text as it was the custom at that time. By not donning the robe, the guest was insulting the King.” I really don’t care if this custom was common knowledge in the Mediterranean world of the first century. That was 2,000 years ago and half a world away. If we insist on using ancient texts for written by and for a culture vastly different than our own, deeper explanations in our copies of these texts are vital. Relying on preachers takes to explain these things the scholarship away from the laity. This is classism and elitism in the Church.

The preacher had a chance to explain these details and why it seemed like Jesus was being an elitist ass. The preacher opted not to do this, but instead said it served as a warning to us, the Gentiles, to not disrespect or challenge well-established religious traditions and customs.

Ex-fucking-cuse you?

I am transgender. I am queer (bisexual or pansexual, depending on how one defines the prefixes “bi” and “pan”). Well-established religious traditions hold that I am an affront to the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and the well-established customs range anywhere from condescending pity to acts of physical (and sexual) violence. I will challenge authority where and when I will, including religious authority. If the “leaves on the tree of life” really “are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2), then that includes those of us who are the heretics, those with the strength of spirit to stand against authority. Doing so is not Pharisee-like on our part. Defending the traditions and customs: that’s the work of the Pharisees.

And reminding us of our “baptismal promises,” including those made for us by our parents? I am not in any way bound by the promises made by others, including the promises my parents made at my first baptism, a ritual of their choosing in a faith tradition of their choosing when they gave me a name of their choosing. Those promises were for my parents, not me. I made my own promises on 24 November 2013, when I was baptized into a faith tradition of my own choosing with a name of my choosing. The promises I made were not the same as the promises the preacher referenced in his sermon. Again, assumptions were made. Don’t ask me to live up to your baptismal promises. Mine were very different. And for those tempted to ask: I did not write my own baptismal rite. Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon wrote it. I wrote the testimony I gave prior to my baptism.

The preacher went on to ask why we aren’t living up to Christ’s call. This is particularly painful for me because I didn’t qualify for the necessary financial aid to complete my seminary course of study. He is well aware of this fact. He calls us out without bothering to call out the denominations that require a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from an accredited seminary, a degree that takes a vast amount of money to obtain. This is classism and elitism, again, in the Church.

The preacher also went on to say there’s a little bit of Pharisee in all of us, as we all think we’re better than the next person in some way. Ex-fucking-cuse you? My sense of self-importance is so weak, I need medications to keep myself alive. Being trans means that I’m assured constantly that all the world is better than me. This is classism and ableism in the Church.

This preacher and his church are focused on Christian mysticism, and he criticized my emphasis on practical theology in my #TDoR2016 sermon. And yet there he was, preaching practical theology after warning us to not challenge religious traditions and customs. It was finally too much for me. I’m an adversarial and a practical theologian. I have no need for mysticism. Salvation, eternal life after death—so what?

We need salvation in the here and now, from the hardships of this life. We need life before death, here and now. It should simply be assumed that there are persons of all economic classes in the congregation, and less access to economic privilege means less access to education. Speak plainly. It should be simply assumed that there are persons with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses afflicting our senses of self-worth in the congregation. Speak not to us of the sins of our vainglory.

Mysticism is for those who aren’t struggling to survive.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

The Nightly Prayers of a Satanic Christo-Pagan

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[The seal of the dæmon Walwarwat, a great Cæsar of Hell.]

11 October 2017

Dipping my hand into a small bowl of holy water, I cross myself in one of three ways.

  1. In the name of the Mother, and of Her Child, and of Their light that guides…
  2. In the name of Mary, and of Joseph, and of the son Jesus…
  3. In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer…

Turning to the east, I pray to

Antinoüs.

Thus praying always to the Divine Boy, the Arcadian Greek of Bithynia, I am made more like you, lover of Hadrian–Emperor of the World of Peace; Defeat every enemy of love, O victorious son of Hermes–May all rejoice!–and turn the heart of the hateful one, myself included, into a sensible peacemaker. I pray this through Hadrian, Sabina, and you. Hail, hail
Antinoüs!
Hail, hail
Antinoüs!

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

Then I turn to the pentagram (arbitrarily hung in the northwest) and recite my version of the Fell Lord’s Prayer.

His Infernal Majesty, who reigns in Hell, accursed is your name. You adversity come, your will be one with ours here on this earth. Give us the means to divine our needs, and present challenge to us as we present challenge to others. Lead us forth into reason, and guide us from naïveté. For thine are the margins, and the logic, and the shadows for ever and ever. Hail Satan!

After these, I add whatever free-form prayers I feel are appropriate. Finally, I lay me down to sleep.

Cultural Reclamation at the Cathedral of Christ the Light

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7 October 2017

Today, for the first time since my maternal grandfather, the last of my grandparents, died was the first time I set foot in a Roman Catholic Church to pray during a time other than a wedding of funeral. I haven’t been to a “regular” Roman Catholic mass since my senior year of high school, in 1988. Today, I went into the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, because I wanted to do so.

I’m pretty much everything the RCC stands against. For all intents and purposes, I’ve been Protestant since 1988. I’m queer. I’m transgender. I’m an ordained Wiccan priest and a Satanist. I was never confirmed, so according to the tradition of the RCC, I may not receive the Eucharist.

I entered the Cathedral anyway. It wasn’t like Mass was happening. I made sure that I wouldn’t be there for that.

I found a chapel where the Blessed Virgin Mary was the central icon, and settled there to pray and just be. While there, I became angry. I wasn’t some outsider. I was born Catholic. To be on such hallowed ground was and is my birthright. I fail to understand and refuse to try to understand why I need to meet the approval of an earth-bound community in order to claim my birthright to the Sacraments. It could be argued that the sacraments aren’t for God; they’re for us. But it is through the sacraments that we can have experiences of God. I still don’t know if I’d attend Mass at a Catholic church that wasn’t in affiliated with DignityUSA. Why worship with a body that would reject me?

But at the same time, why not?

And yet, while I was there Cathedral security asked a man who appeared to be homeless to not sleep on the Cathedral premises. They directed him to go across the street to the park at Lake Merritt. Seriously? The only people I recall Jesus chasing from a place of worship were the capitalists. That is certainly not part of what I want to reclaim. But, this was security at one cathedral. I have no way of knowing if it’s RCC policy.

The thing is, the only churches I know of that are open during the day for anybody to just come in and pray are mostly Roman Catholic ones. St. Paul’s, an Episcopal church not far from this cathedral, has a sign on their wall that mentions open chapel hours, but I was told it’s an outdated sign. They no longer have such hours. Grace Cathedral does, but that’s a long way from home for me.

But, this is my birthright: to enter a Roman Catholic church and pray as I see fit. I’m moving to Hayward soon, so this particular Cathedral won’t be that easily accessible. But, there might be other places I can find. And I think I’ll keep looking for them.

But, it would be great if more Episcopal churches in particular and Protestant in general (especially United Church of Christ churches!) would have open chapel hours. If I have to continue to take my place among the Roman Catholics, I will. It’s my right to do so. But it would be so much better to be able to pray at a place that doesn’t look down on me.

THIS FRIDAY: Support Trans Rights by Supporting Pagan Musicians!

I see exactly no downside to this opportunity: “[Bandcamp] will be donating 100% of our share of every sale on Friday, August 4th (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time) to the Transgender Law Center“ Source: https://daily.bandcamp.com/2017/07/31/this-friday-stand-with-bandcamp-in-support-of-trans-rights/ Need some ideas of … Continue reading

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:

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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!