My relationship with Catholicism has been what one would call, a love/hate relationship (and most likely, not the way you would assume). Now, while growing up as a protestant in America is nothing like one would expect from say, darker times Ireland, I can say that Catholicism was not thought highly of in my family. My father who thought of (or should I say, does think of) Catholicism as paganism with a thin coat of Jesus colored paint… would be entirely right on multiple levels (in my opinion).
When I was a “believer” in the protestant/christian sense, Catholicism was a lie we protestants turned our noses up at. That being said however, my mother who was also a believer and a protestant, was raised Catholic. She did not share the same disdain for Catholicism as my father did and while neither of them had any horror stories about the rapist priests in the clergy, I would eventually have loved ones who did.
It was from my early years till about my late twenties that my feelings towards Catholicism was largely hatred. My feeling about Catholics shared my same perception of that of free masons, I considered anyone of those folks likely good people who had been hoodwinked into believing in bullshit that made them feel comfortable while the institutions who offered the belief system, laughed while stealing money from the faithful through tithing or “required donations”.
The picture at the top of this post is a statue of “our lady fatima” which resides at Saint Anne’s shrine in Fiskdale, Massachusetts, USA.
The grand irony of becoming a magician raised in protestant “Christianity” is that while there was a time I hated this place, the insights one can gain from studying the syncretic religions eventually lead me to considering it a holy place that I would hope to protect.
After leaving the Christian faith after over twenty years and then (after a couple more years) leaving the hatred of said faith behind, I have been able reconcile myself with the religion and realized that while there are elements of it that I hate, there are others that I do not.
After all, I am more than a little giddy about the fact that after reading Gordon White‘s “The Chaos Protocols” I have a shrine within a few miles that offers a statue (with more than a little psychic energy flying around it) of the potential trickster spirit, our lady of fatima (never mind the labyrinth on the shrine’s grounds where I have done the LBRP to greater energetic effect than most places).
While Catholicism may be on the decline, their temples and shrines offer magicians and pagans a wonderful opportunity to reclaim the saints and spirits.
See, this is one of the things I love most about chaos magic. Once it has re-calibrated your world view, it often times gives new meanings and opportunities to things in your past that you were either blind to, or considered useless/heretical.
In light of the concept of paradigm shifting belief systems, chaos magic offers the magician a comfort in breaking subtle taboo’s that can unchain ones personal sense of slavery that is so often felt as one leaves a religion.
While I have done some more recent magical work with several Catholic saint’s as far as offerings, prayers and etc. go (some which have been very effective) the most potent ritual I can think of was something I did suddenly, without thinking, when I was still a devout “believer” at the tender age of ten years old.
On the grounds of the shrine, there is a kind of convention hall that has been used by the community for bingo games, potlucks, town meetings, you name it.
From the age of seven till about the age of ten, I was a cub scout (adolescent masonry IMO), at the end of my career, I left as a wolf scout. Every year since inception, I found myself at the annual pine car derby, an event where scouts would compete to build and race the fastest model car for a trophy.
This event, almost always took place in the convention center on the grounds of the shrine. One year, out of the blue, I found myself standing on one side of the auditorium where the pine car derby was held.
Looking up I saw on the wall, a large crucifix with a bleeding wooden Christ attached to it. Despite my upbringing and my parents attempt at instilling respect for the “other” form of Christian faith, I felt something from the depths of my inner being rise to my solar plexus.
It was a deep seated emotion of disgust and contempt for the symbol before me.
Thinking nothing of it, I placed my left and right thumbs to my left and right temples respectively. Holding my fingers out like antlers and wiggling them, I proceeded to stick my tongue out and making a kind of “blaaaaaaaagh” sound, squinted my eyes, mustering all the disdain I could for for the idol before me.
I felt amazingly, intensely free and liberated for a reasons I was not even sure of why at the time being… Until I happened to see my father standing at a ninety degree angle to the left of the room pointing at me, shaking his head, intoning the silent, angry whisper of “NO!” and walking towards me.
Oh FUCK! I thought to myself, now I have done it…
Surely enough, my father pulled me aside and reprimanded me, angrily, but in a way that in a room full of people, made it look like he was not mad. I tried to plead my case saying “but, this is a “catholic Jesus” and I thought we did not…”
NO Nathan, we do NOT do that no matter what! < This is my current approximation of my fathers response.
I love and respect my father and while I think he is one of the nicest and most wonderful people I have met, he like me, holds his rage inside until something makes it burn…
That day, I saw a small flame manifest and I held all of my anti-christian sentiment inside for the next 17 years until I left the faith and declared myself a magician… It would be another four years before I started openly talking to him about being a “wizard”.
With the passage of time, I am happy to report, not only does my father not react with anger, excessive worry or disdain, he seems interested albeit concerned about my choice of spiritual interests.
I can not help but to assume that this natural progression of acceptance stems from his own attempts to be a better Christian, something which, I find entirely lacking in almost all modern forms of Christianity these days, sans the progressive and liberal Christians who while still a small group among the faith as a whole, are in fact growing larger each day.
As we move further into the apocalypse, an event which I personally believe will be far more of a spiritual/psychological event rather than a physical one, it is (IMO) the magicians, the artists and the creatives who will be best suited to adapt to the chaos of world before us.
The world may be sinking in a metaphorical sense and personally for me, I find that magic is an excellent way to build a worthy ship.
Out of the ashes of the old world, the phoenix, the fox and the saints will be there to offer help to those who are willing to ask.
As for me, they shall be joining my friends, family, ancestors and spirit companions as the crew of my ship.
I’ll see you on the open seas!