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To: FiatLVX Christian Magick Elist
From: tyagi mordred nagasiva 
Subject: Monasticism, Witchcraft and Heresy
Date: Kali Yuga 49941103

I want to write about monks and monastics here.  I want to share what I
feel and think about myself as a monk and how I compare this to what is
traditionally associated with monasticism.  I have, like the issue of
'sorcery' previously, looked at this before, though I find great value
in repeatedly returning to these ideas and their role in my life.

I assert that monasticism is poorly understood by the laity (and quite
possibly the monks themselves), who take behavioral appearance and 
structure for the entire meaning of the practice.  I associate monasticism 
strongly with magical principles and think that Christian monastics
demonstrate an invaluable continuation of a mystical tradition which
is an essential component of Wizardry, my magical path.

From my Bible (Am. Heritage Dict.):

# monk...n.  A member of a religious brotherhood living in a monastery
#  and devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order.  [ME *munk* < 
#  OE *munuc* < LLat. *monachus* < LGk. *monakhos* < Gk., single *monos*].
# monastery...n... 1. The dwelling place of a community of persons under
#  religious vows, esp. monks.  2. The community of monks living in a
#  monastery.  [ME *monasterie* < LLat. *monasterium* < LGk. *monasterion*
#  < Gk. *monazein*, to live alone, *monos*, alone].
# alone...adj. 1. Apart from anything or anyone else.  2. Excluding anyone
#  else; sole; only.  3. With nothing further added: *The drive alone takes
#  four days*.  4. Without equal; unique: *alone in his ability to unite all
#  factions of the party*.... [ME < *al one*, all one].

(Isn't it great to keep hearing quotes from people's Bibles??!)
(Note the root of 'alone' at the end of this quote: ALL ONE.)

|The Benedictines are monks because they claim to be monks.  

I dispute this.  It takes more than a claim.

|They are monks to me because I accept their claim.  

You accept that they are, yes.  I've met Benedictine nuns, and I would
agree with you about the ones I met.  They were chaste and sincere.

|They are monks to the Vatican because their paperwork is in order.  

I also think it takes more than paperwork, though I know what you mean.
There is a 'title' which is given to them, much the same way that within
the OTO I have been given the title of 'Magician'.  Again, I think it
takes more than paperwork, or even the behaviors which inspired the
paperwork to be consolidated.

|In the eyes of St. Benedict they are probably not monks because they 
|deviate from his rule a bit (having a school for example, being 
|ordained, not being vegitarians).

This is closer, I think.  Monks typically follow a Rule.  St. Benedict's
was quite strict and apparently exacting.  I wonder if the saint would
have deigned to determine if another was or was not a monk.  I hope not.

|Monks belong to the larger category of Religious.  Usually monks are
|cloistered, follow a rule, and one of their charisms (holy works) is usally
|perpetual prayer or silence.  Nuns are female monks.  

Here we go.  Now we're talking what makes up monk-life.  My Bible says that
'to be cloistered' is the rough equivalent of 'being shut in' - inside the
monastery, apparently.  I take this not only as a characterization of the
living environment of the monk, but also of their *demeanor*.  That is, a
monk is reserved of expression, hesitant of communication, and generally
focusses more on PERCEIVING the world then acting upon it.  This is to me
the *esoteric* meaning of 'cloistered'.  A monk can live on the street or
in a field and still be 'cloistered' in this way as part of an approach to

When we start talking about a 'Rule' then it gets more tricky.  
Sts. Benedict, Francis and Dominic all apparently have 'Rules' associated 
with them, and my secondary Bible (Webster's NUU Dict.) defines a Rule as 
"the code of regulations observed by a religious order or congregation".  
That is, for modern monastics a 'Rule' is a set of behavioral prescriptions, 
such as when and how to pray, eat, sleep, rise, etc.

I understand a Rule to be much more than a batch of regulations, though I
do see the value in adhering to a set of behavioral constants within any
community (e.g. secular 'laws' and 'regulations').  To me, a Rule is a
principle, a fundamental underpinning of the monastic lifestyle and
character.  A Rule is what *generates and gives value to* that 'code of
regulations'.  Ideally when a Rule is expressed in words it ought to be
of tremendous depth of meaning, not only giving form to a particular
behavioral code (or lack thereof), but also dictating an inner direction.
My own Rule is that of the knight-monks of Thelema:

	    "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."

The concept of 'charism(a)' with respect to a 'divine gift' or 'holy work'
was, until you mentioned it, unknown to or at least forgotten by me.   I
think it is very important, and in the case of monks it is certainly one
means of determining the success of one's practice.  I agree with you that
silence and prayer are the charisms of true monks, and I referred to this
briefly above when writing of being 'cloistered'.  

One of the most important results of deep reflection is an ability to
suspend the expressive function within oneself, to become 'present' in
perception.  When I speak with a monk I forget that she is there.  She is
calm and receptive, drinking in what I say as the very Word of God.  This
need not result from an intention on hir part.  

Indeed, if hir practice yields maturity then such silence comes of its own, 
and not necessarily from willing that particular state.  It is important
to me that what so very many people see as the goal has for whatever reason
been substituted for the practice.  Needleman said it well in his book,
_Lost Christianity_.  Too often we emulate instead of finding our own path
to the same place as our teacher.  An 'imitation of Christ' does not a
Christ make, and this is also true when attempting to nurture the charism
of silence.  For some it may take a great deal of expression to void one
of the *need* to say, to be heard, to feel acknowledgement, etc.

When it comes to prayer, this is just as true.  I see prayer as a very
intense inward-reaching, a calling upon God-as-me to manifest.  Since I
don't understand God to be 'something else' or 'someone else', then I
rarely have need or desire to ask to be given anything, though I can 
see why others might.  

More often I engage a conversation with God, in which I speak and listen 
deeply (the more quiet I can be, the better able I am to hear and 
understand Hir), and this connection has had very transformative effects 
in the world around me.  The ideas and feelings to which I am inspired
are powerful in the sense that not only I but others around me are
changed from knowing them.  This, for me, is the area in which magick and
prayer are one.  I think this is why Crowley characterizes deviation from
the 'Single Supreme Ritual' -- attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of 
the Holy Guardian Angel -- as 'black magick'.  He saw the incredibly
powerful effect that such a relation has upon all who come near to it
and wished to set it relief against social or material power-mongering.

|Friars are religious that follow the rule of St. Francis or St. Dominic, 
|they don't take vows of stability, they usually work with "the public."  

This is interesting to me.  I'm not very familiar with the Franciscan or
Dominican Rules, nor their vows.  When you say 'vow of stability' do you
mean that Benedictines make some sort of vow to remain stationary?

|Sisters are Religious Women that have taken solemn vows and are organized 
|like Friars.  Sisters of Charity, Ursulines, Mercy Sisters, etc.  

Do you know how the vows of Sisters varies from those of nuns or monks?
I'd love to compile these and examine the exoteric and esoteric meanings
of each.  I've done this for very many monastic vows (many of which I
maintain myself), though I have never studied about Sisters or Clergy.
Btw, aren't Sisters also called 'nuns' (or vice versa)?  I think the
Benedictine nuns with whom I spoke called themselves 'Sisters of Charity'
or something like that.

|The other broad category is Secular Clergy.  These men are priests 
|incardinated (registered) in a particular geographical area.  They take 
|a vow of obedience to their Ordinary (the diocesian bishop) and promise 
|to keep the law of celibacy and prayer.

I wonder about the substance of what makes a 'priest' as well.  I've not
yet studied enough about Christian religious to comprehend it, though I
gather that experience (sometimes associated with age) and ability (due
to the nature of the social role) are usual components.

Vows and oaths are very important to magical and religious practice.  Not
only do they provide a structure and discipline within which to learn and
grow, but they can also function as mobile targets if one defines them in
ways which need not be associated with specific behaviors.  

The social aspects of many vows are valuable to the integrity of a committed
community.  A good example here is a vow of obedience within a hierarchical
structure.  The personal aspect of that vow is obedience to God, and the
way I understand this is an inner (feeling of) commitment to listening to
my deepest self.  For me, a vow is less a contract and more a principle of
intent which I've found to yield a consistently valuable result.
|You also asked what "they" meant by witchcraft?  I never found out.
|The penalty for witchcraft is excommunication.  They most definitely 
|considered witchcraft incompatible with Christianity.  I speculate that 
|the definition of witchcraft includes consorting with the devil in the 
|form of whatever is being invoked to work "magic."   I think witchcraft 
|is what witches do.

I'm sorry to hear that.  This sounds like a remnant from Inquisitorial days,
and it speaks volumes to me about the ignorance and xenophobia of the Church.
What is today called 'witchcraft' is something I find to be of immeasurable
value.  It is as much ecological as it is nurturing, and while I can under-
stand the fear of different religions, I'm sorry to hear that it extends to
excommunication in response to investigation.  Those who are exploring the
meeting point of these magical and religious traditions do us all a favor,
I think, and I wish to support them as strongly as I'm able (probably also
because I feel a part of them :>).

|You welcomed me to the House of Kaos.  What is the House of Kaos?

The House of Kaos is the tantric monastery in which I live, from which I
am sending you this missive.  It is located in the city of Saint Joseph,
in the Land of Califia (today called 'San Jose, California').  Email me
if you'd like to visit.  It is a tract house which serves as home for
3 adult humans besides myself, a canine and a few felines.  Some would
consider us a 'co-operative' household, yet this may be gradually changing.

|I tried to analyze what I believe and why when I became a layperson again

What does it mean to you that you have 'become a layperson again'?  Do you
no longer feel that you are a monk, then?  Do you feel that the social
group in which you participated defined the entirety of your practice and
relation to the divine?  What sorts of things were you feeling when your
'ordination' was removed from you?  Could you describe the ritual/ceremony
which effected your removal from that Order?

|and I have discovered that I'm an Arian and probably a Peligian.  

Fascinating!  Thank you for teaching me new words.  My Bible says:

# Arianism...n.  *Theol*.  The doctrines of Arius, denying that Jesus
#  was of the same substance as God and holding instead that he was
#  only the highest of created beings.
# Pelagianism...n.  The theological doctrine propounded by Pelagius,
#  a British or Irish monk, and condemned as heresy by the Roman
#  Catholic Church in A.D. 416.   Included in its tenets were denial
#  of original sin and affirmation of man's ability to be righteous
#  by the exercise of free will.

I see the value of these beliefs and think that you are very sincere
in your search for truth.  Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. 

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