My Religion

David Ethan Kennerly. 17 April 2000.

In summary:

I believe in the power of the psyche, and that there is some God that interacts with the psyche. I was brought up Seventh Day Adventist, migrated to Buddhist, to agnosticism, to atheism, then became spiritual, then magickal, then well rounded.


In flashbacks:

I.

Summer sunset on the dusty, dry grass, plain. They talked and mingled at the shindig. Little pre-literate boy with untamed copper coils watched a tarantula and the plain canvas in comparison to the heavenly canvas. A fake-meat hot dog in hand, he considered what mommy had told him, "Well, we don't eat meat because God said some were unclean, and others because they are not so healthy for us."

*

Night. Mommy brings out the unprimed painted wooden blocks. Reds, yellows, and an occasional blue build an arch. Crayons are within reach. Every Friday night we begin the Holy Sabbath. Mommy said, "God said, 'Each day you will keep by the Roman calendar, except the Sabbath. That you shall keep by my calendar, from sunset on Friday until Sunset on Saturday.'" Tonight she also told a tale, ending it with a sticky moral: Jesus weeps every time you commit a sin, because he loves you.

*

Copper-headed boy in peer-insulted fashion waited for the little yellow bus. He looked skyward. The sky nodded back. He silently repented nothing he would later remember. "If Jesus returns today, I just want to make sure," he thought.

*

Several grades shared class at this rural school, several miles outside of Raleigh. The school wasn't much bigger than a very large, 1-story house. Every Friday, they ordered cheese pizza, (cheese since many were vegetarian), including the copper-headed boy who was deemed teacher's pet for his quiet behavior and excellent academics. He was in the 3rd-4th-grade class. He would only go to this very much "House on the Prairie" private school for one year. They were nice, but he didn't miss it. Somewhere a simple sign read "Seventh Day Adventist School."

*

The head of his bed faced the window that faced the front yard. Nightly, he almost went to sleep, consciously rolled over and knelt on the waterbed. "Dear Lord," he began. "Please keep them safe," he visualized people he'd never met but was sure needed Lord's hand.


II.

He poured over the New Testament's Gospels. His hero had a fight with the religious lawyers and won. He smiled, vowing to read a little bit of his hero's deeds every day.

*

"God loves us. Therefore, God wants us to be happy," he explained, not moving the copper hair hanging before his eyes. The receiving party didn't understand. That was ok.

*

"Would you believe in a Magic Mushroom?" the Aryan ex-Marine, hyper-scholastic, buff, warrior-philosopher drolled, and then feigned sycophantic tone: "He lives on your shoulder," then drolled automatic logic points, "You can't touch him. You can't hear him. You can't see him. But he's there."

The copper-hair young teenager recovering from whatever it was that was last night's fun shrugged his shoulders from the sofa, "So?"

"It's absurd!" All the old atheist arguments followed like a river of fire from the Aryan.

The copper-hair boy let it go, meditated, then left, living Epicures.

*

The wild-long river of copper stayed still on his head as he glanced at the hard sunlight striking the cement through the thin window of the high school biology classroom. A few people's voices trailed towards their homes. A SETA (Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) girl appeared. Today, he decided and shared his decision as capriciously as it had occurred; "I don't see anything wrong with eating animals. I mean, we have to eat something to survive. If we eat plants, they die. Something has to die to feed us."

*

"I don't need to believe in God," the gold and copper-hair teenager explained. "I used to, but I don't need Him. I know what is moral and what is immoral. I know what is important and what is not."

Marc, a genetically Jewish young man, regained his shit-eating grin. The redhead understood. "Years ago, when we met," (1990 he thought) the copper boy said, "I was agnostic and spiritual and you were atheist. Now, you've converted me to atheism, and I converted you to religion."

*

"Today's your eighteenth birthday?" the dark-bearded philosopher asked.

"Yeah," the river of redhead young man replied, having finished his Subway sub.

The elder produced a Thoth Tarot deck and handed it to the younger, "Here. T.D. and I got this for you as a birthday present. I have one like it." He read the red words on the white box, printed by USA Games, Inc. "Aleister Crowley's 72 cards with 3 versions of The Magus."

The Ace of Swords has the Greek word written on it, "Thelema." Translated into English as "Will." "Love is the Law. Love under Will."

*

The orange robes found a seat on the Greyhound Bus. The bald man clutched his beads. The nearly shaven copper-hair boy looked at this new bus traveler, who must have also been going toward California.

The teenager struck up conversation, and then heard, "I am going to the Theraveda Kaba-Aye Monastery." He gave a pamphlet: 13350 Boulder Creek Drive, Boulder Creek, California.

The teenager returned from the Dead show in Oregon, the last Dead tour ever. Chemicals hazed his head a little. After a few days in San Francisco, with newly met friends, the headquarters of the International Society for Individual Liberties, he looked on his map. Boulder Creek is between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

He bought bus fare.

He unwrapped garlic from their cloves, lightly cleaned a little, and studied kamma and dhamma (the Pali spelling, as opposed to the Sanskrit spelling "karma" and "dharma").

The monk taught him to meditate. After about an hour the monk broke the silence, "Alright, that's enough."

"We need a cook," the cook hinted.

"You could stay, you know," the monk said.

"I have to get back," the teenager replied.

The monk implored, to the point of breaking his "no-desire". The wiser monk interjected explanation; "He has friends."

He later briefly described it in the eighth and last issue of the 'zine he gave away at high school: Spare R.I.B.S. (Reason, Intuition, Beauty, and Sanity).


III.

The neatly cropped copper-hair boy picked up the thick blue paperback from the bunk bed. He chuckled inwardly at the blue pentagram and New Age magician on the front. Curious, he opened it up to, "Relaxation Ritual. ¡¦ 5 minutes to perform¡¦" He gave it whirl. He relaxed.

Private First Class Fraze sold the book to him for $10, half it's cover price. He read and practiced it leisurely in the barracks, in the Georgian heat of summer, then Korea, then Central California, finishing the book there. He never constructed a magickal tool. He imagined it, with poor discipline.

*

He could have gone home, but instead, for vacation, he went to Kyoto, Japan. In a cheap hostel, he met some people from all over, all remembered in black and white, for that was the film he shot on.

One was a Buddhist monk. Meditating at a Rinzai sect Zen Buddhist monastery within walking distance, he shared as the cleanly cut copper boy a year out of his teens shared an orange.

Morning. The silent bell. The garden. The mat. The counting of breaths. Meditation.

*

Cool Ohio air. The dark-bearded philosopher, now with flecks of gray, and the copper boy and about a dozen others sat in a living room, meditating, sati-style, as he remembered from Kaba-Aye.

He smiled. He nearly burst into laughter as a bubble danced the tip of tongue and he imagined a room full of bubble factory meditations.

*

A little floor space for all in the San Francisco apartment under the rich moon warmed the circle and cross that stayed still on the plain black shirt of Greg, the dark-hair soft-spoken spiritualist, as he taught rudimentary Qabbalah, ritual, and interpretation of each. A sofa-ful of giggles and smiles and nods, and a small floor full of miscellaneous spiritual debris; each attentive to an image of the Work.

The cut copper-hair boy listened and noted, each time whenever he could make class. He had little comment, other than comments on comments. He was ignorant.

*

He read GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) Religion and programmed every morning and tested every afternoon in the warm May. Prayer, done. Ritual, done. Temples, done. Religious relationships: allied and enemy deities, done. "Eight religions," he thought, "for the eight points of the octogram." Each line of the octogram displayed alliance; each adjacent point represented enmity.

*

"Like an octogram," he said, and sketched the octogram from the top. "Creativity becomes Compassion becomes Harmony becomes Gnosis becomes Law becomes Fortune becomes Strife becomes Destruction ¡¦ becomes Creativity; repeat."

"Which do you believe in?" the woman asked him on a gray day.

"All of them," he replied.

*

He ought to pay his ninety-three dollars, because two years have gone by since he joined the San Francisco College of Thelema; an important reason for moving here, he remembered. When was it? 1997. Tonight, "The Diamond Sapphire", a combination of Theraveda Buddhist meditation and Thelemic ritual in the quaint, auric living room.

He gave a hundred dollar bill and told the instructor after class, "93." he began, "I haven't kept up with the course load. I haven't done anything besides basics. ¡¦ Mental floss. I feel at peace from it."

*

The digital avatar of a black-hair, middle-aged, humble, pauper priest bowed his head before the altar of Glioca, the Goddess of Compassion in the online somewhat Gaelic faerie-tale world. He prayed passionately to Her, asking only that he might understand Her and have Her compassion.

*

U2 mused, while he thought about the letter Gina wrote to him: what is your religion? Bono, the lead singer, Dionysus and Soul inspired, sung an answer, "... I. I believe in love."

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