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Miasma – An ancient view of sin and pollution

The poster reads

The poster reads “Firmly support the decision of the Central Committee to deal with the illegal organization of ‘Falun Gong'” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the more underdeveloped concepts we have today is that of pollution. Sure, we all know about measurable pollution like CO2 / global warming and our dying oceans. But how about spiritual pollution?

Not too many people talk about this. Part of the reason might be due to the misuse of the idea. In China, for instance, certain religious groups can be banned, and their members persecuted for ‘polluting’ the state—Falun Gong being a prime example.

The Chinese authorities periodically try to make ‘pollution’ a spiritual issue. This seems a perversion of a genuinely spiritual understanding of pollution. The Chinese authorities’ agenda with their version of ‘spiritual pollution’ is primarily ideological, and state oppression is tangibly real.

“Every several years — maybe five to seven years — China is likely to have a ‘spiritual pollution’ campaign and ‘anti-spiritual pollution’ campaign which means that they don’t like what they perceive to be coming from the West: sex, the freedoms, drug use; all of these very sensationalistic television programs.”¹

Considering the gross misuse of the term ‘spiritual pollution’ by governments overly concerned with social control, many of us in liberal democratic countries might see it as politically incorrect – or impolite – to say anything at all about spiritual pollution. However, liberal-democratic political correctness, no matter how well-intentioned, can sometimes stand in the way of progressive theory. People may be reluctant to talk about certain issues for fear of being branded a zealot. And I think this might be the case with spiritual pollution.

A 1772 painting by Jacques-Louis David depicting Niobe attempting to shield her children from Artemis and Apollo – via Wikipedia

We walk a fine line with religion these days. Few of us want to upset the apple cart, and for good reason. No person in their right mind wants to hurt or harm another for no reason. But if this also means that discussing the idea of spiritual pollution is utterly taboo, then something’s amiss and freedom wanes.²

The ancient world had a complicated view of spiritual pollution. It certainly was not without its sociological elements. But there was more. Gods and goddesses could be involved, along with demons. Not being a classics scholar, I find it relatively difficult to come up with good material on this. It’s all out there, but one has to weed through the ancient texts to get at it. So I was happily surprised to discover two things.

  • JSTOR now is open to the public. You can access up to three journal articles per 14 days for free. Then after 14 days, three different articles.³
  • While reading a footnote in the revised edition of G. M. A. Grube’s translation of Plato’s Rebublic, I noticed the following reference, which I found at JSTOR.
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I can’t recommend this review strongly enough for those interested in ancient Greece and the idea of spiritual pollution. It contains a plethora of references to the idea of spiritual pollution as portrayed in classical literature, making it a good starting point for further research.
MC
¹ Nikola Krastev, “China: Report Says Media Control Is Tightening,”Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Thursday, February 23, 2006.
² I make a preliminary attempt in “Pollution” at earthpages.ca
³ I can access JSTOR through the Toronto Public Library. But that only works for me for as long as I live in Toronto, which may not be forever. So I was quick to sign up for my free account, independent of the library.
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Spider Medicine (Arachnid Arcanum)

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

 Spider_web_Luc_ViatourImage source: Wikimedia Commons

Awkward Beginnings

Meeting a new animal spirit guide is always a deeply cathartic experience, and my recent introduction to a spider spirit guide was no exception. Relationships with animal spirits are in some regards like the ones we have with people. Trust takes time to develop in both parties. There may be reluctance at first, and this was the case with my spider spirit guide and I.

I met her peripherally at first, within my psychic safe space, which consists of a lush Australian bush grove with a stream fed by a waterfall. I journey here and ground myself upon a rock in the middle of the stream to meditate and clear my mind as I await interactions with various inter-dimensional beings.

However, on this particular occasion, I felt compelled to retreat back into the dark rocky recess behind the waterfall, which serves as my…

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Synchronicity and Poststructuralism


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Animal Totems

A coyote in Yosemite National Park, California...

A coyote in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Suomi: Kojootti Yosemiten kansallispuistossa Kaliforniassa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I have a very strong belief that animal totems not only exist but help teach us and guide us as we go through life. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the country or maybe it’s because of my Cherokee heritage. It doesn’t really matter how I came to believe these things. I know that I do and I know that animals do teach me quite a bit. When I was young, I would spend vast amounts of time in the woods alone. I would sit quietly and still and watch what the animals were doing. I would learn from them by watching their movements, behaviors and patterns. I would watch them play and fight. I had some contact with animals that no one else has that I know personally. For example, when I was around 10 years old, I came face to face with a mountain lion. I had an instinctual feeling that she was guarding babies. She was crouched in ready to spring mode. We locked eyes and I felt a curiosity from her. She did not spring on and maul me, obviously. Then when I was 11 years old, I was bitten on the leg by a copperhead snake. I wasn’t watching where I was going and the snake bit my leg. Momma rushed me to the hospital after sucking the poison out herself. You can’t even see the scar any more. When I was in my 20s and on a sport dive, I came face to face with a tiger shark. I’m not sure which one of us was more afraid. We both went in opposite directions. Those are just a few examples of the experiences I’ve had with animals. I have always felt a kinship with the animal totems in my world. Two mornings ago, I was opening the curtains on the back windows of my bedroom and standing about 5 feet from the house and moving closer was a very large coyote. His nose was in the air and he was smelling the feral cats that live outside of my house. It was dawn and he was in full hunt mode. I threw open the window and yelled, “Go Coyote….GO!”. I scared him and he stopped dead and stared at me. I yelled at him again to go and he ran almost to the wood line behind the house. I yelled one more time and he disappeared into the woods. He was very big. I was very shaken. I do not like predators hunting the cats. I also do not like predators of that size being that close to my house. I know there are coyotes close to the house most of the time. I can hear them calling to each other through the woods. Knowing they are out there and seeing them 5 feet from the house are two completely different things. After I had some time to process seeing that coyote that close, I started to think about what coyotes as animal totems mean to me. I was thinking how that applies to my life now and what wisdom I can glean from that encounter. The lessons that they teach us are as follows:

  • Understanding that all things are sacred–yet nothing is sacred
  • Teaching that only when all masks have fallen will we connect with the Source
  • Intelligence
  • Singing humans into being
  • Childhood trust in truth
  • Teaching us how to rear our young
  • Brings rain
  • Ability to laugh at one’s own mistakes
  • Placing the North Star
  • Shape-shifting
  • Teaching balance between risk and safety
  • Illumination
  • Stealth

I am still processing what the main lesson was for me. I have an idea. I may share when I know for sure. Do you see the same animal around you all the time? Do you have encounters with animals that you normally would not encounter? Have you considered that you may be coming into contact with animal totems to teach you?

About the Author

My name is Elizabeth Glass. I enjoy sharing my life experiences, my spiritual experiences and just writing in general. I have been writing…


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Liminal and Liminoid

English: Rock concert at The Hexagon The band ...

Rock concert at The Hexagon The band are Jethro Tull, performing an acoustic number. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Expert from my blog… read more here

Browsing through my library, I recently found some interesting material on the idea of liminality. You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people begin to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.

—MC


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An above average look at the belief in astral projection


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Spirituality and Mysticism

Physics is the study of the physical universe, so we would not, offhand, expect it to give insight into the existence or nature of the nonphysical universe.  But we find that the highly abstract theory of quantum mechanics gives several versions of reality—Schrödinger’s cat both dead and alive, for example.  Thus the undoubtedly correct theory leaves us with a severe problem because it cannot explain why we are conscious of only a single version of reality.

One potential solution, the one adhered to by most physicists, is that physical reality consists of wave functions and particles rather than just wave functions.  But we have shown that there can be no particles, so this is not correct.  Another potential solution is that the wave function collapses down to just one possibility, but this also encounters severe problems.  The only solution left, the one that seems to me to be far and away the most probable way out of the dilemma, is that we each possess a soul which looks into the physical world and perceives just one of the possibilities.

Thus, rather than being antithetical to spiritual ideas, physics supports them, at the expense of the materialistic view of the world.  To say it in reverse, if scientists wish to argue that physics supports materialism, they have a great deal of work to do.  They must experimentally show that collapse of the wave function occurs (or, much less likely, that particles exist).  The ball is in the materialists’ court, and they must come up with a very good shot.

So, ignoring the caveats, quantum mechanics presents us with the most basic fact of all:

Each of us is a nonphysical soul that has a physical body.

Once one grants this, one’s life changes.

THE BRAIN

How does the nonphysical soul interact with the physical world?  By means of the physical brain.  The individual soul can perceive the quantum state of the individual physical brain and thereby indirectly perceive the state of the outer physical world.

Further, the brain has many quantum states, each corresponding to a thought.  By narrowing its attention to just one quantum state, the soul effectively makes the corresponding thought the thought we are aware of in the ordinary sense.  Or if the soul concentrates on just one of the states of the motor part of the brain, the associated bodily action becomes the action we and the external world are aware of.  Thus the brain is the means or tool by which the nonphysical soul interacts with the physical world.

Because this awareness process affects only the perception of the wave function and not the wave function itself, awareness of only one possibility does not interfere with the equations of physics.

THE NONPHYSICAL REALMS

The physical plane is not the only “place” the soul can be aware of.  There are many nonphysical realms—many ways of existing—that are very different from our world here, and the soul has the potential to be aware in any of them.

These nonphysical realms can be roughly divided into two planes, the jinn plane and the angelic plane.  The angelic plane contains those realms that are closest to the source, to God.  They are akin to light, or angelic music.  The jinn plane is constructed from thought-like forms.  It is the realm where paranormal phenomena take place, and is the source of creative inspiration and beauty.  With the proper training, these realms are accessible to us.  There are also nonphysical beings that dwell within these realms and that we can communicate with.

Our soul makes a journey that is infinitely longer than our physical lifetime.  It starts out in the angelic plane, evolves to the jinn plane, becomes associated with a body on the physical plane at physical birth, and goes back to the jinn and angelic planes at physical death.  That is, our awareness does not start at birth or cease at death.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

When the soul becomes associated with a physical body at birth, it has to become familiar with the body and learn how to use it.  So it has to concentrate all its awareness on the physical body, the physical plane.  In the process, the soul forgets how to be aware on the nonphysical planes.  When we become adults, our soul concentrates its awareness almost exclusively on the machinations of the brain.  This includes all the habits, prejudices, and mindsets encoded in the neurons of the brain.  The soul thinks it is the brain-body and that the physical plane, with all its problems, constitutes the whole of existence.

To break this exceedingly restrictive perspective, one must retrain the soul by doing spiritual practices.  The primary step, through observing your thoughts, watching the breath, or other concentration practices is to regain some control of the soul’s awareness.  These practices stop the soul from “mindlessly” concentrating on the uncreative, capricious, circumscribed thoughts generated by the physical brain.  Regaining control of your awareness is as difficult, and as rewarding, as any discipline you could ever undertake.  It is, in fact, at the base of all disciplines, from playing the violin to martial arts to true creativity in mathematics and the arts.

For many, simply stopping the excessive concentration of the soul on the goings-on of the brain is enough to carry you through the whole spiritual journey.  But some don’t like these concentration practices, or they need to supplement them.  In that case, one can use sound or visualization or sometimes compassion practices to begin to re-awaken one’s awareness on the nonphysical planes.

PERSONALITY AND SOCIETY

Control of our awareness, however, no matter what the rewards, does not take us to the end of the spiritual journey.  We also need to develop certain qualities—strength, insight, compassion, beauty, wisdom, the ability to accomplish, and friendship, among others.  These qualities, especially wisdom and friendship, constitute the essence of personality.  In a sense, we are obligated to develop these qualities to pay back our debt for being given the privilege of existing on the physical plane—the place of work—in the human form.

Finally, how does society fit into the spiritual journey?  Metaphorically, God created beings—centers of awareness, intelligence, and emotion—because she/he was lonely.  And so our interactions with one another contain the goal of existence, the reason existence was brought into being, the payoff.

It is not so much that we are all one—although that may be true in some sense—as that we enhance each others’ lives.  There is great, almost unfathomable potential here—it is shattering to even think about it.  But this potential is mostly unrealized.  To make it a reality, it will be necessary for men and women of good will and clear vision to work together to bring about a society where personality and friendship can fully blossom.

Casey Blood, PhD

From the early age of 7, Casey Blood was interested in spirituality, math and science. His parents encouraged him to become an astronaut…

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