Confirmation, the Dweller and lessons in love


And…we’re back to Christianity. Those folk with knee jerk reactions or whose eyes are glazing over, feel free to skip 🙂 More magical stuff on the way soon…then again, maybe it could still be interesting…

On Sunday I was Confirmed in the Anglican Church. I mentioned this previously in this post on the congruence between the Nicene Creed and esoteric thought. My unfolding in the Christian tradition has not exactly been normal (nor is it still). I have long fought and struggled with the inner call to engage in the social side of Christian life, the actual religion as distinct from the mysteries I am blessed to find in esoteric Christian currents from my late teacher. However, it finally got me*.

So there I was on Sunday, after a week of…well let’s use the word, “drama”.

Now, there is a well known phenomena in magical and esoteric circles concerning initiation – as one approaches it, a combination of forces and events, inner and outer, combine to produce an oppositional force. Poetically this is sometimes called the Dweller (or Guardian) on the Threshold. It can be very strong and disruptive at times. Outwardly things go wrong; machines break down, car keys are lost, pictures slide off walls, open all hours shops are inexplicably closed, plain black cloth cannot be purchased anywhere in the city. Those sort of things.

Inwardly, the initand may experience many things, but all seek to stop her moving forward. Dread, fear and uncertainty typically arise. Or one may suddenly think the whole thing is a load of wank and the group you’re being initiated into, a bunch of bullshit fed monkeys. The inner resistance can become overwhelming strong. Kinda like the story of the faery ‘curse’ on the farmer to pull up seven pails from the well; the first is easy, the second harder for some reason, and the seventh almost impossible, even though weighing the same as normal.

Invocation of the Holy Spirit (me kneeling)

All this is quite common. I first experienced this phenomena preparing for my Neophyte initiation when (among other things) I found myself rolling backwards into a police car while a terrified cat was drawing blood from my left eye-ball. However, mung-bean that I am I did not expect it before my Confirmation. This shows my (now evaporated) prejudice that exoteric Christian rites are not real and deep spiritual events.

I will not go into the various manifestations of this force before the ceremony except to say the final straw was bogging my dad’s van in a specially created (and therefore safe) turn circle on my partner’s new property. This was just as we should have been leaving for the church. This event precipitated a melt down of immense proportions and by the time we got to the church I was stressed, unshaven and unwashed and feeling as wild-eyed and crazed as a hippie on a bad acid trip.

The Confirmation ceremony itself was incredible. I know most esoteric and magical folk do not feel positive about church, but Sunday was something else. Everyone was deeply touched and the Spirit flowed through the ceremony so well. It was as deep and as special as any initiation ceremony I have been through, though of course its aims were far different to a magical initiation.

Bishop Kay Goldsworthy, recently conducted into the WA Women Hall of Fame, led the ceremony. As the first Anglican female bishop in Australia, Kay has endured a long and hard road full of prejudice and hate, some of it quite close to home. Personally, I think whatever objections people have to women standing in persona Christi would have been blown away if they had attended the ceremony on Sunday.

After a number of years of learning and teaching in the magical traditions I think I know ritual well, and I honestly feel the ceremony on Sunday was the best it could have been. No other incarnated ritualist or leader could have made it flow better or impart a deeper sense of beauty and holiness. Bishop Kay’s presence and grace was amazing. It was an honour to see how she integrated and wove together all aspects of the morning into one gift for all to share, from the Old Testament reading to the lines from Little Gidding I requested to be added to the ceremony…it all was integrated into an harmonious vehicle for the One to use to touch all present.

What really struck me was Kay’s presence and standing as Bishop. Since male privilege (the extra social standing and power in our culture based solely on being a man) has so long been part of the priesthood and episcopate it has become almost synonymous with it. It was therefore a revelation and spiritually uplifting to see a Bishop without a single iota of institutional power oozing through. Kay’s authority as Bishop was so obviously based on service, love and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. There was no institutionalised power-basis at all. This is quite remarkable and such a gift.

One of the most precious aspects of the ceremony was Bishop Kay’s holding and acceptance of all within the church community. As I have said, she is a leader of a communion where she, for no other reason than being part of the episcopate, is derided, criticised and even hated by many members. Yet, she still holds and expresses love to them all, as she encouraged us to do for all members of the church.

This unconditional love, the acceptance and holding as precious whoever we find ourselves next to in church, is a mystery often missing in magical and esoteric circles. Often our groups are choosy and selective and as a result quite heterogeneous. In church we have an opportunity to extend our love to all, even the unwashed and loud, the conservative and staid. This is my greatest challenge, one which the Confirmation at the hands of Bishop Kay has helped me with.

So, overall, bravo to the Anglican Church and thanks to Bishop Kay and my regular and equalling inspiring priest, Rev. Julie. I will forever remember the day, especially taking Communion with my beloved M and my dad either side of me 🙂

* a clever reference to a bumper sticker from the 70s, which no-one will get. Pity.

14 comments

  1. Arcad · March 22, 2011

    Care Fra Peregrin,

    this is a beautiful post and I congratulate you to your confirmation into the CHurch and wish you all the best and that you may find there what most people will not be able to see.

    I am going pregnant with s post regarding Christian rituals since quite a while and I find this very interresting. The thing is that most Christian communities or Churches were striped of any ritual going anyhow deeper. And as usuall, it is the more traditionalist and as some will say (for some good reason) the more conservative Churches which preserved the – or some – rituals inclouding their meanings. Roman Catholic Ritual is still very beautiful, even if you do not like the pope. I assume that it is teh same with teh Anglican Church (which is also not over all a very reformative modern Church yet – at least not everywhere 😉 ) The Orthodox Churches I believe have preserved the most of the olden rituals and that includes their deper meaning. The Lutheran Church still has some whereas the Reformed Church in Switzerland basicalls is blank when it comes to ritual and the transportation of the mysteries. A baptism takes about 10 Minutes there. Short Prayer, some words about the meaning of being baptised (leavinh out but every hint to teh mysteries) some water, blessing, done. My son was baptised into teh Russian Orthodox Church. Although I kind of opposed (since his mother choose to let him being baptised there for rather superstitious reasons), I have to say that the ceremony was a real Initiation into the mysteries. It took about two hours. LOts of walking, spitting at the devil, welcoming the light in the east etc. Oil, candles, water (with the real meaning of representing death and life etc). And even if the baby will not get much of it on the conscious level, like in any initiation most will work and unfold on the more subtle levels. And also for the adults it is a (re-) Initiation.

    Christian Ritual can give so much more if you have the right priest. We have a reformed femal priest here who does comnbine teh old pagan rituals with those of Chrisianity. So she is celebrating Ostara, the Summer Solstice and all the other sacred days in special ceremonies. Fire, inscense, even calling upon the elements. I wonder how much of an explaining she has to do to some peeps in the Curch.

    Anyways, you are right, rightfully understood, Christianity can offer a lot. But I also have to say that the unconditioal love is not always found. Like anywhere else, a lot of people just do not get it. I call them self labled Christians since they stick this lable or name tag on their coats but having no real or none at all understanding of the real concept, not to speak about the real secrets of and behing the Christian faith.

    It seems that you are part of a beautiful community where one can find a bit more than the surface stuff. Congratulations again.

    Oh and did you get a nice confirmation present? Here the kids often only go because of this 😉

    In L.V.X.

    Arcad,

  2. Arcad · March 22, 2011

    Oh, and about the Dweller of the Threshold, you never know, it may have been a black magical attack 😉 Those seem to be around these days 😉

  3. Peregrin · March 22, 2011

    Care Fr Arcad,

    magical attacks – of course! See, all this Christian love nonsense is getting to me already – what kind of magician am I not to automatically think of magical attacks? Lol 🙂

    Thanks for you kind thoughts and warm wishes. I think what you say is so true. So many churches are like what you describe – almost secular rituals and no deeper approaches to the mysteries. The Anglican Church is a funny thing as it has extremes – High Anglicans are almost exactly like Roman Catholic churches without the Pope, and some of the low Anglicans are like warehouse born-again revivalists.

    Our Church is fairly low and I long for more traditional and older ritual forms. However, in Perth at least, the more traditional a church the more conservative the politics are and the less the love and acceptance the congregation have towards minorities and those on the fringe of society. So I put up with the lack of deep ritual – at least there is some – in favour of a more caring and supportive community.

    Yes, I think you are right re the Orthodox Churches – there forms and mysteries are still practiced deeply and well, so rich and deep. A socially inclusive and accepting Eastern Orthodox Church would be wonderful 🙂 There is of course the connection with western esoteric circles via the Wandering Bishops who often had Orthodox lineage, particularly Jules Ferrette.

    Your son’s Baptism sounds amazing and a true experience of the mysteries. 🙂 And I really like the sound of the reformed female priest you mention! Hope she continues long and well…

    Oh, yes, did get some nice presents…I did not know this was a tradition before Sunday – an added bonus… lol 🙂

    Thanks, Frater… look forward to your posts on Christian rituals and mysteries 🙂

  4. John Porter · March 27, 2011

    Hi Peregrin

    I think I need to keep a closer eye on your blog! Congratulations on your confirmation/Christian Initiation. I would suggest the quality of experience you had is testament to your own dedication as well as to the deep faith (and thereby spiritual contact) of those in charge of proceedings. Exoteric Christian Initiation and ritual still packs a punch as you found out! 🙂

    My own Christian esoteric path within the Gareth Knight group ended up with me having a strong push to externalise this and I ended up getting ordained! As you can imagine this did not happen overnight and I fought like crazy because I couldn’t stand the idea of being part of the institution of the Church which seemed to stand for so much I dislike about human organisations. And yet there is the Christ Presence and the Holy Spirit behind it all as well as being forced to sit and minister with the ultra conservative and bigoted and treat them the same as the bohemian outcasts one would rather spend time with!

    I’m not sure any of your wiccan readers would be interested in reading this or have got this far in reading but I think it is important to realise that the Christ is also present in the Earth and there is a VERY Green aspect to the Christ that one can work with. Making Christianity into a state religion in no way interferes with Christ’s reality and his relationship with the deep forces expressed by the god and goddess.

    Many Congratulations again! 🙂
    John

  5. Samuel · March 29, 2011

    I am a bit late in this, but I want to congratulate you on your Confirmation in the Anglican Church – hope that you find the fellowship and community that you seek!

    In LVX,
    Samuel

  6. Peregrin · April 6, 2011

    Hi John,

    thanks for the comments and wishes here. I imagine the inner impetus towards ordination was quite a push. I am hoping to avoid this myself, lol 🙂

    Just picking up on your point regarding a ‘green’ aspect to Christianity – really this is such a central part to authentic Christianity that I am surprised it is not more clearly spelt out in exoteric teachings. The earliest examples of Christian art, before the crucifixion imagery, in the catacombs show Christ as the Good Shepherd and surrounded by foliage. He is fully in and as the Earth 🙂 Thanks

  7. Peregrin · April 6, 2011

    @Samuel – thanks for the good wishes 🙂 The community is a key thing here, as I mentioned. After teaching meditation there last night, an old crusty man was talking to me, trying to express experiences we esoteric folk have a language for, but unable to. A few simple chats and so much mistrust is removed. 🙂

  8. Singing Sparrow · May 19, 2011

    I “just” came on to your blog here and of course, as these unexpected discovery usually go it is exactly what was needed at this point in my life.
    I was confirmed into my neighborhood RC church around ten years ago and then after years of study (RCIA, Roman Catholic Instruction for Adults) and prayer and meditation I was whacked up side the head one Sunday while we were reciting the Nicene Creed. I was overwhelmed by class anger and thought “well, this is no different than what the “Illuminati” of our own times do telling us fairy tales to keep us on the farm. From that moment I was torn away from my beloved congregation and a budding deeper level of faith. This year my “other side” has gained the ascendancy I believe this is so because, as in all my life, I never quit praying although the prayers were faint and breathless something like “oh Lord help me” or”Mother of God please come to my aid.”
    So I turn happily to my Rosary today and there is a prayer thanking you for sharing your story. Only someone who speaks from shared experience could have gotten in so far.
    I still cringe over the Nicene Creed/Apostle’s Creed. Perhaps you could write in more depth on your opening to those words-just a plea not an order here.
    Thank you so very much and I have you “bookmarked” so that I can find my way back.

  9. Pingback: Women Bishops and Gay Marriage (a churchy post) « Magic of the Ordinary
  10. Andrew B. Watt · March 28, 2013

    Congratulations, and welcome to the fold!

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  13. Birch Wind · March 9, 2014

    I found the Anglican church to be the via media. It’s just a perfect middle ground for me. We are allowed to ask questions, even encouraged. As someone who was strictly Wiccan for a number of years, it was so odd to feel myself pushed into a church by some sort of current that just wouldn’t stop.
    I one day really looked into the roots of Wicca (who was this Gerald Gardner anyhow?), where did the influences come from, where was the wording from etc. I realized lots of Abrahamic tidbits were involved. Far more than I had originally thought. Then I found a blog about Gnosticism by Jordan Stratford when googling about the history of Wicca and so began a love affair with Gnosticism and Esoteric Christianity.
    There was not an Esoteric Christian church near by (wow, what a surprise) but one day I had a very unexpected spiritual experience that left me in tears and completely moved and shaken. I knew I needed something. I wasn’t getting what I needed from Wicca (not knocking Wicca, it just wasn’t the tool I needed at that time in my life anymore) and I found myself at a little 135 year old Anglican Church.
    Now I guess I’m sort of an Anglipaganostic, lol.
    I love to celebrate the wheel of the year and reflect on the passings of the seasons and how they coincide with our own internal cycles and struggles. I still enjoy a relationship with ‘divided’ deities of Lord and Lady, although most often I find it easier to see the Conjoined they become One in Truth. And at the same time, reading the Psalms, listening to church bells, kneeling after communion… that part is so very ‘esoteric’ or ‘inner’ for me. The Wiccan celebration seems to better relate to my more ‘malkuth’ self whereas church feels more like Tipheret, if that makes sense at all (?). so for me it’s an odd balance, but there is definitely something within the Church, an amazing richness of current that feeds me in a way I had not been fed before.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Christianity.
    ~Peace

  14. Peregrin · March 10, 2014

    Hi Birch Wind,

    thanks for the comments. You account here is very interesting 🙂 I wonder if you have read “Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual, Sex and Magic” by Joanne Peasrson. You may find it interesting 🙂

    Love the Anglipaganostic description 🙂

    Off to look at your blog…

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