What in all of heaven and Earth do Cottage Witchery and Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ have in common? Spiritual Self-Help. Or we could speak of personal religion or of mysticism. The point is that both of these books provide information and guidance for practices that are personal in nature and that have similar goals, although the infra-structure of techniques, symbols, and words is different.
Mainstream and alternative media, younger and older demographics, church attendees, and individual spiritualists—all describe the hunger for spiritual meaning omnipresent across the globe. The approach of spiritual self-help is that the discovery of spiritual meaning is a personal journey, just like life itself. For each of us, the answers must be found within if they are to be meaningful and to lead towards peace and happiness. And the quest continues day after day, for as we grow we are ready for more.
In contrast, from many who claim to have the answers we hear the roots of hatred and terrorism. In the name of "one true God" we have suicide bombers, beheadings, and massacres of the innocent. In the name of a particular religious sect we learn that children are taught that all who do not share a particular teaching must die.
In retrospect, however, a look at history shows that this one particular sect is not all that unique! At different times and different places, nearly every major and minor religion has been used and abused to justify war, torture, and murder. And what do these "religions" of today and yesterday share in common? Dependency upon authority and rigid creed. Believers are taught to follow and not to look within. Unauthorized books are banned and have been burnt. For them, the "gospel" is not good news and glad tidings, but a commandment of malice toward all non-believers of their particular view. Spirituality is reserved for those indoctrinated to blind adherence and obedience. Heaven is the promised reward to those who happily kill themselves and as many "others" as possible.
Believers are taught not to question, but to fear alternative sources of information and knowledge and to suppress their own divinity. To listen to the voice of divinity within is to hear the message of the "enemy." To quest for conscience is to deny the commandments of authorities. To find wisdom in nature and heart is flaunt holy writ, for which the only punishment is death. Enough! Must everything be seen only as black or white? Are people so color blind that they see the world devoid of color—unable to see the flowers in the field and those in the human heart? Of course not.
Freed from the bondage of sectarian authority, we all have the potential to see. Books help expand horizons so that we no longer need to be limited to one back yard. We live on a globe within an infinite universe, not in a dark cave or walled-in yard. Our temple is the human heart, not church or mosque or synagogue. Those are only chapters in a book that may or may not be helpful on our journey. In the school of life there are many classrooms and we should know that we move from one to another endlessly. Learning does not stop at some particular age or with some particular certificate.
Spring forward! In this season, life bursts forth all around us and our senses are awakened. Here is a reminder to open the windows of the mind and heart as well as the household. We are "born again" every year and will be born again life after life, learning and growing and sharing in ever-expanding awareness and consciousness. And intrinsic to our learning experience is remembrance of things past. When we remember, we need not repeat the lessons over and over.
Many spiritual techniques build upon remembrance to expand awareness. Meditation, astral projection, magical crafting, and alchemy are some techniques that build upon the stepping stones of remembrance in order to move forward on the journey. It may be a well-worn path tread by many before, or it may be a narrow path followed by few before—but it always becomes our own unique path.
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke (Minnesota) was the owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the world's oldest and largest metaphysical publisher. He played a seminal role in the rise of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in the 1960s and ...