Sunday, 9 August 2015

Christians reclaiming magic, occult and animism from the New Age

It will be easy for readers to misunderstand (or misrepresent) the following; so please read it carefully before jumping to conclusions about what I am advocating - it is somewhat different from what most others who have written on this theme have been advocating.

I came to Christianity late in life and via a decade or so of being a New Agey kind of person (but only in my reading, in my mind and private life - I have never been in any group) - and this grew from a lifelong feeling for myth, folklore, and the like.

From my Christian perspective, and from inside knowledge, it is crystal clear to me now that modern world of 'paganism' is set-up in on anti-Christian predicates, and most of its main writers and advocates are seedy, exploitative, devious and untrustworthy characters - with not many exceptions.

This was made clear yet again by reading The Book of English Magic by Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate, the text of which gave me a constant impression of camouflaged dishonesty and sordidness: the discernment of the heart warns me that the material described is emanating from an essentially (albeit not wholly) untrustworthy and ill-motivated subculture.

The New Age set-up has claimed for itself a vast swathe of paganistic stuff, and the New Age is mostly a mixture of airy fairy nonsense and nastyness of one sort or another (generally, the usual modern sex, alcohol and drugs stuff) - united only in its explicit and implict 'anything but Christianity is good' orientation; and it is therefore understandable that most Christians regard the whole subject with abhorrence as either fundamentally evil, or just too risky to be worth considering.

But I do not think this attitude is a viable option for modern Western Christians - I think that modern Western Christianity needs to reconnect with its animistic and pagan roots - and therefore the risk must be taken, and the good aspects of (for example) Shaminism, Witchcraft, Druidry, Magic, The Occult, Divinisation, Mediumship, Clairvoyance and so forth must be reclaimed from the New Age into a Christian context.

In this I follow CS Lewis who believed that Christianity was Paganism-plus - crudely put: real Christianity takes paganism and adds to it and completes it. The reason that this is not explicit from scripture is simply that it was so obvious to the people of the time that it did not need to be said.

The error of too many Christians has been and is to try and build a religion on what is distinctive to Christianity, deleting everything which is shared with paganism. This leads to a cold, detached, alienated, rationalistic Christianity that leaves the heart unsatisfied - and enables the New Age to monopolize many natural and spontaneous and good human aspirations.

My view is that it is simply not-an-option for Christians to dissociate from New Age preoccupations - and although it is risky to engage with them, Christians must recognize that there is no such thing as a safe path through life - risk cannot be avoided; and the attempt to avoid risk, is itself one of the deadliest of snares - often leading to a cold, heartless and covertly hate-driven species of pseudo-Christian zeal, which is all-too-common among self-identified Christians of past and present.

What I think would be best is for Christians to engage with this realm of 'paganism' insofar as each is drawn to it for good motivations; and insofar as their powers of discernment of the heart tell them that it is good, sweet and wholesome.

It is this discernment which must be cultivated, used and respected - it is the divinity within us that serves as a compass of good, and it will warn us if we are approaching wickedness or if we have taken a step into wickedness: then we must repent and turn-round to retrace our steps.

This is hazardous, but mortal life is hazardous. Men cannot avoid making mistakes; Men are not built to avoid making mistakes, nor is the world; but we can and should recognize when we have made mistakes; repent, and learn from that experience. We ought not to be afraid of life - and we ought not to be afraid of making a fool of ourselves - and then admitting that we have been fools!

This is not a matter of deliberately putting ourselves into the path of temptation! - a very stupid thing to do; but a matter of following our heart and being guided by our deepest discernment, meditations and prayers. Yes, we can deceive ourselves; yes we need help and guidance from informed others whom we can trust (if we happen to know of any such, but most people do not, and such people are seldom found in mainstream Christian churches) - but self-deception applies in every direction, and temptations into pride are just as strong on the path of strict and narrow 'Christian orthodoxy' as they are in exploration.

I fully recognize that some of the above arguments have been co-opted by Liberal Christians and actually-apostate but self-identified Christians to justify their conformity with the world of mainstream secular Leftism; but that path is taking Christianity into a world of politics and sexual revolution; as if such social and hedonic gratifications were our deepest contemporary need, rather than intrinsic with the very problem which needs addressing.

I am talking about a very different direction - the direction of personal contact with and participation-in the living universe.

Mainstream Christianity is, in general, an incomplete and unsatisfying thing; paralysed by the futile attempt to make life risk-free - and what we need is seldom to be found in any modern Western institutions - therefore of necessity we must explore, as responsible individuals, to find what we need to be alive and engaged with this world.

Note: The above was stimulated by a valuable conversation with the well-known reactosphere/ orthosphere pseudonymous blog commenter 'Thursday'; with whom I met for lunch last week while he was visiting my neck of the woods.