8 March 2011

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : , ,
I am not going to go into many details... I rather prefer to illustrate what there is to see with valid examples. It is up to you to do the rest - thinking and concluding. Those who are already interested in this controversy have probably watched some of the documentaries on the web, where they analyze all kind of aspects, from the useless and overused ones ("Christianity placed its feasts over the pagan ones!") to the not so obvious aspects. Anyhow, some of them are to be taken with a serious amount of doubt and reason... like the claim in a certain production, otherwise an interesting and quite serious one, that the Blood of Christ is a mimic of menstrual blood in pagan traditions, which also signified Life. Anyone with a sense of decency (if not truth) will remember that menstrual blood is mainly used in witchcraft in love spells, a form of black magic, and is also 'prized' by satanists, which use it to reverse and to mock the symbols of the liturgy. This is not to deny that such blood wouldn't have meant the force and gift of life. That, however, has nothing to do with its meaning in the holy liturgy: it is the descent and sacrifice of the 'god' (a totally different ancient concept) and its communion with the man himself, it's the divine blood that washes the sins. All these before the giving of a 'new life'.

My example today is from my immediate experience: the orthodox church service.
Let us take a look at what happens...

It is not a private service, it involves a compulsory gathering of people - this is the "church", often mistaken for a senseless flock of sheep, brainwash and manipulation. I don't deny this, however. It's up to each individual out there what they make of it. But I rather see in this gathering the consciousness that All is One, and One is in All.

The orthodox liturgy involves a hypnotizing rhythm, a slow and steady one, which generates the alpha state and sometimes theta (I felt it myself many times). Certain types of prayers are very repetitive. The lighting, the smell and sound work together. At some moments, the priest's speech is overlapped with the choir's singing. For many times, there are several voices and layers of sound, some of them being very, very low. They generate vibrations that can be felt within the body. It is almost like throat singing. It is inducing a trance-like state.

Incense is used, but not only as the symbol for the ascension of prayer to God. The fact that the church condemns the burning of herbs and other 'pagan practices' is only a modern rule which serves the harsh elitism. However, it may also serve to keeping the weak ones away from straying, from going to the very negative sides (very few of us are actually aware of the dangers along the way.. each way...). Therefore, it was safer to declare that such practices are against true faith. But... the orthodox faith still keeps such practices. The priest smudges the entire space, filling every corner, passing every object and person through the purifying smoke of the incense. None will ever have an explanation for this, perhaps. Only the folk wisdom, that says, "It's for chasing away the bad spirits..."

Candles are always used. Not just for being there, not just for reminding of a deceased one. They are lit up at key moments and in various, fixed places. Every 'wish' of the faithful has to be forwarded in the company of a lit candle. This goes well in harmony with the extensive use of candles in Catholic faith.

The funeral rites are far more complex. I cannot even try to go into this now, because for most of my life I refused to consider them necessary, and today I'm afraid I still don't know them too well. They are surely complex and full of bizarre thinking. Probably the most intriguing part is the obsessive smudging of the body and the grave in the first days after death. The dogma doesn't really give an explanation, I'm afraid. At least not to the simple folks. But the ancient traditions do: it is to prevent the possession of the body by the wandering entities, "spirits" that may have an interest in dwelling it.

I am sure that people still remember the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005. Along with the other priests doing their ritual, there were the ones of the Eastern Church as well. One could see the contrast at the time of their mass: their long black coats, the smoke of incense, the way that dark gathering moved and sang in a mystical tone - it was like a scene from another time, another world. A circle of enigmatic wizards in the middle of the Western world.

If your idea of Christianity revolved only around the rigid Catholicism and the cold Protestantism, then maybe it would be interesting to take a look at the rites and teachings of the Eastern Church. You will find a side that it's a lot more like magic and mystic...

Note: Eastern Christianity did not have crusades. It did not have any form of Inquisition either.


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