Oct 9, 2016

Affirmation (October 2016)

I believe that ritual, the practice of religion, is a healthy exercise for the mind and I claim the privilege of practicing it according to the dictates of my own conscience; I allow all others this same privilege of worshiping how, where or what they may. I believe in the emotional fulfillment that comes from ritual, and that the subconscious is the source of spiritual experience.
I believe in the veneration of the written word as scripture. I believe that venerable works are not confined to a single tradition, era or culture.  Canonization only causes stagnation. The works of contemporary poets and philosophers are no less valid than ancient or historic works. Scriptural veneration is an individual practice, and venerated works differ from believer to believer.
I believe that the mythology to which each of us subscribes is personal--and our belief in that mythology is True even if the myth is not Real.  Some may hold to established mythologies that have been around for centuries or millennia, while others may hold to mythologies that are merely decades old or even personal mythologies that are far younger.  The stories in which one believes should not be mocked; instead the faith created by those stories and the rituals it engenders should be both encouraged and developed.
I believe in Revelation, the capacity of all persons to receive personal scripture through inspiration.  I believe that Revelations can take the form of words (written, spoke, or heard) or images (seen in the world, in the mind, or simply understood) or any other form that the receiver can understand.  Tools such as tarot cards, rune stones, dowsing rods, crystal balls, etc. may be used to invoke Revelation without diminishing its validity. I believe that I have received Revelation throughout my life and will continue to until the end of my days.
I believe in God as a culturally universal construct of the mind that can be articulated in one or more archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. I believe that this God is One, and that all GODS are archetypes reflecting this One. I honor the archetypes of Mother, Father, Child, Companion, and Stranger; I do not favor these archetypes equally, and do not restrict them from changing in the future. I do not believe in God as any combination of one or more human-like being that exists on an alternate plane of existence.
I believe the archetype of the Eternal Mother is representative of the human experience—all of human evolution and history to date, and the continued impact of humanity on the world.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Father is representative of humanity's intelligence—the extent of its understanding of the universe, and the continued expansion of that understanding.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Child is representative of humanity in its current state—the product of its history and its understanding of the universe.
I also believe the archetype of the Eternal Child is the Self waiting for the unification of conscious and unconscious minds. Each individual is God waiting to be realized, and life is a time to prepare for and achieve that realization. The Self is the perfect mind that accepts and completes the flawed Ego.  Just as I contain GOD in me through the Eternal Child, all others contain GOD in themselves. For this reason, all people are inherently equal and deserve the same respect, the same punishment, and the same privilege as all others.
I believe that the archetype of the Eternal Companion is representative of all that humanity desires, and all things humanity is driven to pursue; those things which are familiar and comforting, or that which is canny.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Stranger is representative of all that humanity fears, and all things humanity is driven to flee; those things which are unknown, or that which is uncanny.  These two factors form the extremes of an emotional continuum to which the human experience (the Eternal Child) is bound.
I believe that gender is an essential part of the Self, as is the relationship of gender to sex and the relationships of the genders and sexes to each other. I believe that the confrontation and resolution thereof between the genders and the Child (Ego) can bring a person to the enlightenment of Self, and therefore "God." Understanding and living as one’s actual (not necessarily physical) gender is essential to this process.
I believe that which is given in deed will be returned in kind; so long as no harm is done, one should do as one pleases. I believe that each person is responsible for one’s own actions, and that responsibility for actions sown will be reaped in this life.  In my own life, I seek to live a moral existence, and I recognize that my own morals differ from those of others.
I believe in Creation as the chain of events leading from the cosmogony of the universe through the evolution of humankind and human culture to the modern age. Creation is a continuing event that contains all explainable processes of this development and those which are as-of-yet unexplained. I believe in the First Cause as the force which acted on the Universe in a single moment to begin the process of Evolution. Wherein the personification of a Creator may be beneficial, this is fulfilled by the archetype of the Eternal Father.
I know that human beings are animals, and I accept that we share elements in common with all life on Earth. I believe that Instinct is what separates animals from other life forms, and that Sentience and Sapience separate higher animals from lower ones. I believe that Morality and Inspiration are the only thing that separate humankind from other animals--and I accept that there is nothing to stop other animals from developing these qualities through an ongoing Creation.
I believe in the duality of Body and Mind. The Body is the compound set of organs that experience the various senses, while the Mind is the conscious and unconscious interpreter of those senses. The Body is incapable of being ethical, moral, or artistic; the Mind is incapable of sensing its surrounding environment.  I believe that meditation, mantra, and prayer are ways of bridging the gap between Mind and Body. The ritualistic use of words, breathing, and posture can help to settle and focus the Mind; sexual activity (both masturbation and sexual intercourse with one or more partners) is a similar focus for the Body.
I believe that sexual acts are as profound to the human experience as ceremony, religion, magic[k], and meditation. We have stigmatized sex for too long in Western / American / U.S. culture, and it is long overdue for us to allow open and honest dialog about sex and nudity and sexuality. GOD and sex are experienced in similar ways--selective, pleasurable, guilt-inducing, and terrifying. I believe that these experiences can be enjoyed alone, as well as shared with friends and lovers to whatever degree they are comfortable.
I believe in the use of mundane objects (including candles, precious and semi-precious stones, tarot cards, incense, and herbs) in ritual. I believe that the symbolism attached to these objects has developed over the course of human experience and become rooted in the archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. By making use of mundane objects in the practice of religion, one can tap into the inherent symbolism consciously and unconsciously attached to those objects.
I believe that the forcible preaching of one’s faith to others is detrimental to and ignorant of their own spirituality. If one is willing to learn, then one is ready to lean; when one asks, one is ready to receive—even if only the smallest portion. While one should not hide one’s faith, one should not require, force, or persuade others to believe as one does without first being approached.
I know this affirmation of my beliefs is neither constant nor set. As I further examine and understand the world around me, my beliefs and my knowledge will change.  As Creation is an ongoing process, so also is Affirmation.

Jun 10, 2016

Rites of Passage Revisited

Despite the works of engravers, nothing is truly set and finished.  All things evolve over time.  Just as holidays have evolved into something more concrete, so have the rites of passage which fuel them.  As originally presented in Section 21 of The Salt and the Light, the "Endomwnts" (rites of passage) are ceremonies during which the believer is ceremonially endowed with particular virtue necessary for the stage of life to follow. The timing of these rites is based on Erik Erikson's eight states of psychosocial development.  They are called "endowments" because they are gifts of virtue, often symbolized by another gift early on.


Rites of Childhood

These are performed under the authority of the Parental Order, are as much for the parents as they are for the children.  The rites of childhood are the simplest, and take the form of a gift/object given to the child for the first time.
  • Endowment of Hope or Naming
    • Upon birth. 
    • Hope helps with trust vs. mistrust.
    • Hope is symbolized in the form of a name.
  • Endowment of Will or Shoeing
    • Upon taking one's first steps{about 18 months - 2 years}. 
    • Will helps with autonomy vs. shame.
    • Will is symbolized by the gift of a pair of shoes.
  • Endowment of Purpose or Breeching
    • Upon potty training {about age 3 - 4}. 
    • Purpose helps with initiative vs. guilt.
    • Purpose is symbolized by the gift of underpants (in place of diapers).
  • Endowment of Competence or Confirmation
    • Upon starting primary school {about age 6}.
      • Marks the child coming into the age of reason and/or accountability.  This is the point in a child's live when one begins to be responsible for one's own actions--and therefore has the mental capacity to understand consequences.
      • This is the "Let your conscience be your guide" moment.
    • Competence helps with industry vs. inferiority.
    • Competence is symbolized by the gift of a simple piece of jewelry--ring, bracelet, or necklace:
      • For Mormons this is the CTR ring.
      • Among other Christians, it could be the WWJD bracelet/wristband.
Some children develop more slowly than others.  The age guidelines above mark the typical timeframe for these rites--but these should occur when the child passes the milestone marked.  


Rites of Adulthood - The Hero's Journey

These are performed under the authority of the Academic Orders.  These rights are the most symbolic, and correspond to the thresholds of the Monomyth--with the celebrant taking on the role of the Hero.  Using a favorite story of the celebrants, liken him or her to that story's protagonist in these rites--retell the appropriate portions of the story to give the celebrant a sense of the significance of the moment.
  • Endowment of Fidelity or Calling
    • Upon completion of primary school. {about age 10 - 13}. 
    • Fidelity helps with identity vs. role confusion.
    • During this rite, the Parental Order symbolically passes responsibility over the celebrant to the Academic Order
    • Monomyth: The Call to Adventure - Refusal of the Call
      • This is the "I don't want to grow up" moment.
  • Endowment of Love or Departure
    • Upon completion of secondary school {about age 18 - 21}. 
    • Love helps with intimacy vs. isolation.
    • Monomyth: Supernatural Aid - Crossing the Threshold - Belly of the Whale
  • Non-Endowments (celebrated as art of the holiday season)
      • Not every hero goes through every stage of the Hero's Journey, and not every young adult needs to learn to cultivate every related virtue.  If additional rites are necessary, one or more of these three Blessings can also be offered in personalized, Endowment-like ceremonies.
    • Fortitude (Monomyth: Road of Trials - Meeting with the Goddess - The Temptation)
    • Temperance (Monomyth: Atonement with the Father - Apotheosis - Ultimate Boon)
    • Humility (Monomyth: Refusal of the Return - The Magic Flight - Rescue from Without)
  • Endowment of Care or Return
    • Upon becoming capable of supporting one's own household {about age 25 - 45}. 
    • Care helps with generativity vs. stagnation.
    • Monomyth: The Return Threshold - Master of Two Worlds - Freedom to Live
My personal journey seems to have just passed the Temptation stage.  I had become complacent with my last relationship, and was content to settle without true, emotional fulfillment.  Having lost all that, I must prepare myself to confront Atonement and Apotheosis.


Rites of Old Age

These are also performed under the authority of the Academic Order
  • Endowment of Wisdom or Retirement
    • Upon formal retirement {about age 65}.
    • Wisdom helps with integrity vs. despair.
  • Endowment of Memory or Funeral / Remembrance
    • Upon death.
    • Memory helps with legacy vs. oblivion
      • It is a virtue that is endowed upon the survivors.
    • During this rite, the Academic Order symbolically passes responsibility over the celebrant to the Secret Order

Edited December 7th, 2016.

Apr 17, 2016

Personal Holidays Revisited

I have spent more time than I would care to admit considering the holidays I choose to celebrate throughout the year.  In many cases, the holidays I grew up with have lost their meaning.  In part, this disenchantment is because the secualar elements that I paid attention to as a child did not coincide with the religious meanings I was told to appreciate--and I did not have the frame of reference necessary to want to celebrate the "adult" versions of those holidays when I grew up.

As a Mormon, the only holidays of any real importance were Christmas day and Easter Sunday (and none of the lead- or follow-up elements common to other Christian denominations).  Without the pomp of ritual--deemed prideful by the reserved, Mormon tradition--these were both easily over-shadowed by sugar-toting mascots.  Without Nativity, Epiphany, Lent, and Pentecost, these holidays and their intended meanings were quickly forgotten.

Years ago, I decided that the holidays of the year should:

  1. Coincide with natural aspects of the world (like Soltices, Equinoxes, and proximity of the Earth to the Sun)
  2. Be allegorical of the human condition--particularly the lifespan of the human, from birth to death and beyond.
Using the vessel of The Salt and the Light, I was able to present an early draft of this idea as an allegory of Erik Erikson's stages of development.  While thematically satisfying, this left a gap in the "adulthood" portion of the year.  As Hoteph, I tried to fill that gap with celebrations of the Eternal Child's unions.  The whole holiday cycle was lacking a concrete story.  Given the archetypal nature of my devotions, defining a specific story would have been inappropriate.

However, just as characters follow archetypes, so do stories.  For my own spiritual story, I want to be reminded that I am the divine hero of my own tale.  Luckily, there is an archetypal hero story enjoyed by storytellers--Joseph Campbell's monomyth.  Below, I have repeated Hoteph's "original" form of this holiday procession, followed by my most recent incarnation.  As always, further adaptation should be expected.


Hoteph's "Unorganite" Holidays

The holiday cycle suggested by Hoteph in Section 23 of The Salt and the Light reflects the symbolic progression of the Eternal Child (the believer) through the rites of passage and union.  The holiday seasons, as he had suggested, are as follows:

Yuletide, December 21 - January 5
          December 21, Feast of Hope / Naming of the Eternal Child
          December 26, Feast of Will / Shoeing of the Eternal Child
          December 31, Feast of Purpose / Breeching of the Eternal Child
          January 5, Feast of Competence / Confirmation of the Eternal Child

Season of the Eternal Mother, winter

Feast of Fidelity / Initiation of the Eternal Child, March 22

First Season of the Eternal Father, early spring

Feast of Love / Commencement of the Eternal Child, May 1

Early Season of the Eternal Lover, late spring

Summertide, June 21 - July 6
          June 21, Feast of Care / Establishment of the Eternal Child 
          June 26, Feast of Conjugal Union / Marriage of the Eternal Child [and Eternal Lover]
          July 1, Feast of Parental Union / Parenthood of the Eternal Child
          July 6, Feast of Fraternal Union / Fellowship of the Eternal Child

Late Season of the Eternal Lover, summer

Feast of Wisdom / Retirement of the Eternal Child, September 21

Second Season of the Eternal Father, early autumn

Feast of Memory / Funeral of the Eternal Child, October 31

Season of the Eternal Other, late autumn

Evolution of the Eternal Archetypes

As my personal theology has evolved, the archetypes have expanded their roles, and one's identity is even slightly modified:

  • The Eternal Child has adopted the role of the Hero--and the development of the Hero's Journey has been incorporated into that archetype (partly as an allegory for adulthood).  
  • Thew Eternal Lover has expanded its scope to become the Eternal Companion--acknowledging that its presence in childhood ("imaginary friend") is not romantic in nature.
  • The Eternal Other has absorbed the role of Trickster, in addition to its existing roles of Adversary and Psychopomp.

While the stages of psychological development remain, Hoteph's festivals and seasons shuffle a bit to accomodate the archetype of the Hero's Journey.  The holidays become divided into three Cycles:
  1. Childhood Cycle, Winter
  2. Monomyth Cycle, Spring and Summer
  3. Afterlife Cycle, Autumn
The previous rendition of the holiday cycle appropriated most of the neo-Pagan "Wheel of the Year," except for Candlemas/Imbolc and Lammas/Lughnasadh.  This updated "Hero's Journey" version brings in celebrations on those last two dates.

When celebrating the holidays of the Monomyth cycle, any heroic story may be used to represent the archetype.  Perhaps a new story can be chosen each year; if the selected myth has an associated birth or death story, those could also be used.  When a selected heroic cycle does not include a birth story, the the traditional Christian story would be as appropriate as any other.

Childhood Cycle, Winter


Yule[tide], December 21 - January 4
                    Lifecycle:  birth
                    Themes:  hope, new beginnings, moving on
          December 21, Festival of Hope / Naming of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Nativity
          December 28, Festival of Will / Shoeing of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Epiphany A
          January 4, Festival of Purpose / Breeching of the Eternal Child
                    Childmyth:  Epiphany B

Imbolc / Feast of Competence / Confirmation of the Eternal Hero, February 2nd
                    Lifecycle:  childhood
                    Themes:  awakenings, stirrings, being cleansed and purified 
                    Childmyth:  Prodigy


Monomyth Cycle, Spring & Summer


Ostara / Festival of Fidelity / Calling of the Eternal Hero, March 20
                    Lifecycle:  puberty
                    Themes:  planning, starting things, "sowing seeds"
                    Monomyth: The Call to Adventure - Refusal of the Call

Beltane / Feast of Compassion / Departure of the Eternal Hero, May 1
                    Lifecycle:  sexual awakening
                    Themes:  personal growth, unions, relationships
                    Monomyth:  Supernatural AidCrossing the Threshold - Belly of the Whale

Litha[tide], June 21 - July 5
                    Lifecycle:  prime of life
                    Themes:  taking a break, having fun, getting over the "humps"
          June 21, Festival of Fortitude * / Descent of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Road of Trials - Meeting with the Goddess - The Temptation
          June 28, Festival of Temperence * / Initiation of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Atonement with the Father - Apotheosis - Ultimate Boon
          July 5, Festival of Humility * / Rescue of the Eternal Hero
                    Monomyth: Refusal of the Return - The Magic Flight - Rescue from Without
* These feasts do not correspond to Endowments of Virtue
Lammas / Festival of Care / Return of the Eternal Hero, August 1
                    Lifecycle:  middle age
                    Themes:  hard work, efforts, learning, skill
                    Monomyth: The Return Threshold - Master of Two Worlds - Freedom to Live

Afterlife Cycle, Autumn


Mabon / Festival of Wisdom / Retirement of the Eternal Hero, September 22
                    Lifecycle:  seniority
                    Themes:  being grateful, reaping what you sow, rewards for efforts
                    Eldermyth:  Decline

Samhain / Festival of Memory / Remembrance of the Eternal Hero, October 31
                    Lifecycle:  death
                    Themes:  reflecting, getting through transitions, letting go
                    Eldermyth:  Afterlife


Edited May 22, 2016; December 7th, 2016..

Feb 15, 2016

Affirmation (February 2016)

I believe that ritual, the practice of religion, is a healthy exercise for the mind and I claim the privilege of practicing it according to the dictates of my own conscience; I allow all others this same privilege of worshiping how, where or what they may. I believe in the emotional fulfillment that comes from ritual, and that the subconscious is the source of spiritual experience.
I believe in the veneration of the written word as scripture. I believe that venerable works are not confined to a single tradition, era or culture.  Canonization only causes stagnation. The works of contemporary poets and philosophers are no less valid than ancient or historic works. Scriptural veneration is an individual practice, and venerated works differ from believer to believer.
I believe that the mythology to which each of us subscribes is personal--and our belief in that mythology is True even if the myth is not Real.  Some may hold to established mythologies that have been around for centuries or millennia, while others may hold to mythologies that are merely decades old or even personal mythologies that are far younger.  The stories in which one believes should not be mocked; instead the faith created by those stories and the rituals it engenders should be both encouraged and developed.
I believe in God as a culturally universal construct of the mind that can be articulated in one or more archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. I believe that this God is One, and that all GODS are archetypes reflecting this One. I honor the archetypes of Mother, Father, Child, Lover, and Other; I do not favor these archetypes equally, and do not restrict them from changing in the future. I do not believe in God as any combination of one or more human-like being that exists on an alternate plane of existence.
I believe the archetype of the Eternal Mother is representative of the human experience—all of human evolution and history to date, and the continued impact of humanity on the world.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Father is representative of humanity's intelligence—the extent of its understanding of the universe, and the continued expansion of that understanding.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Child is representative of humanity in its current state—the product of its history and its understanding of the universe.
I also believe the archetype of the Eternal Child is the Self waiting for the unification of conscious and unconscious minds. Each individual is God waiting to be realized, and life is a time to prepare for and achieve that realization. The Self is the perfect mind that accepts and completes the flawed Ego.  Just as I contain GOD in me through the Eternal Child, all others contain GOD in themselves. For this reason, all people are inherently equal and deserve the same respect, the same punishment, and the same privilege as all others.
I believe that the archetype of the Eternal Lover is representative of all that humanity desires, and all things humanity is driven to pursue; those things which are familiar and comforting, or that which is canny.  I believe the archetype of the Eternal Other is representative of all that humanity fears, and all things humanity is driven to flee; those things which are unknown, or that which is uncanny.  These two factors form the extremes of an emotional continuum to which the human experience (the Eternal Child) is bound.
I believe that gender is an essential part of the Self, as is the relationship of gender to sex and the relationship of the genders to each other. I believe that the confrontation and resolution thereof between the genders and the Child (Ego) can bring a person to the enlightenment of Self, and therefore "God." Understanding and living as one’s actual (not necessarily physical) gender is essential to this process.
I believe that which is given in deed will be returned in kind; so long as no harm is done, one should do as one pleases. I believe that each person is responsible for one’s own actions, and that responsibility for actions sown will be reaped in this life.  In my own life, I seek to live a moral existence, and I recognize that my own morals differ from those of others.
I believe in Creation as the chain of events leading from the cosmogony of the universe through the evolution of humankind and human culture to the modern age. Creation is a continuing event that contains all explainable processes of this development and those which are as-of-yet unexplained. I believe in the First Cause as the force which acted on the Universe in a single moment to begin the process of Evolution. Wherein the personification of a Creator may be beneficial, this is fulfilled by the archetype of the Eternal Father.
I know that human beings are animals, and I accept that we share elements in common with all life on Earth. I believe that Instinct is what separates animals from other life forms, and that Sentience and Sapience separate higher animals from lower ones. I believe that Morality and Inspiration are the only thing that separate humankind from other animals--and I accept that there is nothing to stop other animals from developing these qualities through an ongoing Creation.
I believe in the duality of Body and Mind. The Body is the compound set of organs that experience the various senses, while the Mind is the conscious and unconscious interpreter of those senses. The Body is incapable of being ethical, moral, or artistic; the Mind is incapable of sensing its surrounding environment.  I believe that meditation, mantra, and prayer are ways of bridging the gap between Mind and Body. The ritualistic use of words, breathing, and posture can help to settle and focus the Mind; sexual activity (both masturbation and sexual intercourse with one or more partners) is a similar focus for the Body.
I believe that sexual acts are as profound to the human experience as ceremony, religion, magic[k], and meditation. We have stigmatized sex for too long in Western / American / U.S. culture, and it is long overdue for us to allow open and honest dialog about sex and nudity and sexuality. GOD and sex are experienced in similar ways--selective, pleasurable, guilt-inducing, and terrifying. I believe that these experiences can be enjoyed alone, as well as shared with friends and lovers to whatever degree they are comfortable.
I believe in the use of mundane objects (including candles, precious and semi-precious stones, tarot cards, incense, and herbs) in ritual. I believe that the symbolism attached to these objects has developed over the course of human experience and become rooted in the archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. By making use of mundane objects in the practice of religion, one can tap into the inherent symbolism consciously and unconsciously attached to those objects.
I believe that the forcible preaching of one’s faith to others is detrimental to and ignorant of their own spirituality. If one is willing to learn, then one is ready to lean; when one asks, one is ready to receive—even if only the smallest portion. While one should not hide one’s faith, one should not require, force, or persuade others to believe as one does without first being approached.
I know this affirmation of my beliefs is neither constant nor set. As I further examine and understand the world around me, my beliefs and my knowledge will change.

Feb 7, 2016

Things I Learned About Myself While Dating a Kinkster

The emotional stress generated while navigating the particulars of dominant-submissive relationships is far more taxing than I am capable of withstanding.

I have no interest in bondage.  I have anxiety about being bound myself.  I have no interest in binding someone else, and/or being in control of someone who is bound.  There is no pleasure in this for me--sexual or otherwise.

I am interested in gear.  I love underwear:  used, sweaty, or freshly cum-stained, but not excessively stained or "old."   I also enjoy dressing up in sports gear; and am okay with some rubber gear, gas masks, or other fetish clothing as well.

I am interested in watersports.  I enjoy being pissed on and pissing on others.  I am not interested in drinking piss, or forcing anyone to participate.  By extension, I am okay with the idea of diaper play--though not to the extent of an adult baby / diaper lover.

I am interested in light pain play, both on myself and others.  While my own nipples are both pierced and inseneitive, I still enjoy playing with the nipples of others.  I like mild cock and ball torture.  Above all, I enjoy biting.

I am interested in animal roleplay.  I am okay with rubber/leather pup play, but am more interested in fursuit and therian-style play.