She was curiously insistent, saying that I “needed to go back!”
I found her words and tone of voice curious because I am not open about my beliefs. I’ve never professed what I believe as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a customary practice in my family.
More importantly, I find her attitude annoying as my sister clearly is not a church-goer, has a statue of Bast and Buddha on her dresser and yet I never hear of her lecturing my sister.
Last night, I could not sleep, and so I rehashed my mother’s obsession with her religion. What is it that she thinks I had left, that she’s so keen that I go back to?
In order to find the answer, I re-framed the question, asking “What shifted for me?” Then this came to me:
“Once people stop being afraid of God, Western authoritarian religions no longer serve a purpose.”
What shifted was the moment I realized that nothing bad was going to happen to me for disobeying my parents and questioning their beliefs. If anything, I am realizing more and more that disowning my parent’s sense of religiosity was the best thing I could have done for myself.
I’m not saying that polytheism is the answer because it isn’t. No faith intrinsically has any value except what the adherent gets out of the doctrine. The point of religion (my opinion) is to provide a spiritual and social framework for people to thrive in. If they are not thriving, then the religion has failed the people and should be discarded.
My spiritual emancipation occurred when I realized that my parents were foolishly fearful of an impotent god. And so I went off looking for a spiritual construct that was practical and relevant to the challenges I experienced in life.
My parents used God as a smoke screen, saying “God cares about what I think, say and do,” when it was in their own interest for me to think so. As a child, I was malleable and complacent as I believed there would be divine repercussions for not doing what they wanted me to do.
For example, my father often quoted the following verse, which said that God has a special curse for disobedient children:
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
Between the lines – if I wanted a long and happy life, I had no recourse for disagreeing with him, even when he was out of line. I once noted that it was strange the Bible didn’t have a similar edict to curb parental abuse.
Actually, there is one passage in the Christian New Testament:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Naturally, the second passage was never quoted in my parent’s house. And since it doesn’t appear in the 10 Commandments, this passage (conveniently) is not given the same importance by Christian theologians.
I conclude that the biggest mistake, and eventual downfall, of Protestant monotheism is the banishment of the Mother. The Mother archetype is a natural balance, and counter-measure, to the austere, and often unforgiving, God-Father.
Yes, yes…Christian apologists would say that Christ fills that gap as the embodiment of Compassion, and the Holy Spirit, as the manifestation of Grace.
Jesus Christ, however, was male, a rabbi, and supposedly celibate. Any Jew will tell you that it would be highly unorthodox for a rabbi to remain unmarried, particularly at the age of 33. The fact that Jesus’ bachelor status is never referred to or explained in Christian scripture, within the cultural context of the time, demands a closer look.
Another fatality of Protestantism was the wholesale dispensing with rituals and tangibles, like repeated attempts to abolish or marginalize Christmas. Throughout time, rituals and tools (some might say ‘idols’) have served as emotional and psychological anchors for abstract concepts in the human psyche.
Our psyches require imagery and archetypes in order for these abstract ideas to take root and flourish within the fertile (female) ground of our imagination. What many Protestant sects have successfully done over time was extract the fertility from Western religion, rendering it spiritually inert and barren.
In an environment like that, only Fear – and its unaware human enforcers – would keep people from searching for something more fulfilling.
“If you are parents of worth and wisdom, train your children so that they will be pleasing to god. And if they do what is right, following your example, and handle your affairs as they should, do for them all that is good. For they are begotten of your own heart and soul. Therefore, separate not your heart from them.
But, if they fail to follow your course, oppose your will, reject all counsel, and set their mouth in motion with vile words, then drive them away. For they are not your children and were not born for you. Those who are guided do not go wrong. But those who willfully lose their way will not find a straight course.”
Section XXI begins, “If a son and daughter accept the righteous teachings of their parents, none of their plans will go wrong…”
It is safe to surmise that that the key words in these Kemetic edicts are “worth”, “wisdom” and “righteous”.
In no way did the Kemetic sages imply that children should blindly follow parents who were neither righteous nor wise, for “no instruction can succeed, if there is resentment for it.”
Kemetic parents were told, “If god grants you children, may the hearts of their father and mother know them. Whoever hungers, let them be satisfied in the house of their mother and father. Let them [the children] find there a wall which protects them. Be not without a generous heart, for it is god who gives you wealth.” (Section VIII)
It is hard thing to choose between filial piety and listening to one’s Inner Teacher. What has helped me come to terms with this was something I once heard Faery High Priest and author, Orion Foxwood say, that we are here to resolve the paradoxes and correct the injustices put into motion by our predecessors.
My mother had said , regarding my longtime eclectic interests and love of adventure, “I don’t know where you came from… You didn’t learn this from me.” In that moment, I felt validated, perhaps even vindicated. For I’ve long felt guilt at having considered myself a stranger in my parent’s house.
So here was Netjeru and the ancestors speaking through my mother, telling me that although she bore me, my mother did not know me. Although I have never ‘set my mouth in motion with vile words’ against her, I was not ‘born for her’.
The longer I am on my spiritual path, the more I’m convinced that the religious constructs adopted by my grandparent’s generation have not prospered my family. On the contrary, the number of auto-immune illnesses has quadrupled within my parent’s generation. Now my generation is developing new auto-immune issues – all of which demonstrate that our minds, bodies and spirits are at war.
How can this be so? By adopting an ideology where we perceived ourselves as separate from the Creative Force, seeing our physical vessels as ‘sinful’ and abdicating our personal power to the centuries-old machinations of a misogynistic intelligentsia. How could this NOT choke off the renewing life energy within the bloodline?
To my knowledge, only my sister and I have been brave enough to be conscientious objectors, but it is a start. I think filial piety is owed ‘unto the 7th generation‘, to borrow from a native American proverb, rather than to the present generation.
Therefore, I feel justified by my actions if I act for my soul’s purpose, for the sake of the ancestors who have set me on this path and for the sake of the children who will inherit my family legacy, for better and worse.
If what I do now spares me from having to look into the eyes of my children and feeling regret for my lapses in judgment, intentional ignorance, and adherence to that which would diminish potential, then I can (and will) live happily with my choices.
Em Khut em Mer,