“The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
And could sculpt like men, then the horses would draw their gods
Like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape
Bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.” — Xenophanes
“Symbols are to the mind what tools are to the hand, an extended application of its powers.” — Dion Fortune
“Heaven and hell are within us, and all the Gods are within us. All the Gods, all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us… Myth is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphorical images, of the energies of the organs of the body in conflict with each other.” — Joseph Campbell
“A nation that still believes in itself, also has its own god. In him it honours the conditions which enable it to remain uppermost- that is to say, its virtues. It projects its joy over itself, its feeling of power, into a being, to whom it can be thankful for such things.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, circa 1490.
The phenomenon of religion is an occurrence as ancient as the evolution of the cognitive Homo-Sapien. While its origins and rationality are often vehemently debated, the significance of religious belief in every historical civilization cannot be sublimated or undermined. Postmodern society has attempted to sneer at the concept of a Divine presence, to no avail. The overwhelming majority of the human population strictly adheres to the notion of a personified deity-but for what motivation, by what cause, and to what end? Religion is, simply speaking, an innate necessity that is an extended instrument of biological preservation. It is a cognitively conceived rationality of the hierarchy of the natural world. Religion requires no rationality to its practitioners; it is THE rationality.
Thoth, Egyptian God of Writing and Language.
This perception of religious rationality is largely contingent upon cultural context, but this does not invalidate different religious perspectives. Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated the validity of the human mind, and how an accepted conjecture may indeed become reality; this is notably demonstrated within the Placebo effect. The independent variable determining the result of the experiment is not the validity of the prescribed medication, but the perception of the medication as being valid, authentic, and effective by the mind. The second notable example comes in the form of quantum physics, in the double slit experiment. Within this experiment, quantum particles(E.G. electrons) pass through the slits. However, if a detector is placed within the slits, the particles do not pass through the slits. The observation of the particles, even an observation that does not interfere with them, causes them to behave differently. The empirical evidence here confirms a fundamental truth: our observation and perception of existence fundamentally changes it.
The third truth is relatively simple; all living organisms are composed of the same matter, namely, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Thus, all living things are, at a minimum, related on a physical level. The fourth fundamental truth to the inherently metaphysical nature of our reality is found within the first law of Thermodynamics: Matter is neither created nor destroyed, but it may be converted into another form. Thus, there is an inherently eternal connotation to all physical matter in the universe.
Therefore, from these four empirical observations, we arrive at three fundamental truths regarding the physical universe:
1) The beliefs of the mind can directly alter reality.
2) The observation of reality changes it.
3) Matter is eternal.
4) All physical matter is related.
The application of this empirical theory to the physical world and the reality of the human mind as it relates to it, comes in the form of prayer, ritual, and meditation. These mystical forms of communication raise the level of consciousness beyond its normal perception- it is the same phenomenon that is experienced upon walking into an elegant cathedral, and the reason why symbols, mantras, and particular forms of raiment or instruments are used. E.G. the crucifix in Christianity, repetition of “Ohm” in Hinduism/Buddhism, The sword and wand in ceremonial magick, and the Clerical collar. Whether verbal, physical, or metaphorical, these symbols are all inherently designed to convert the typical state of consciousness into a metaphysical, spiritual one.
“I walk into that cathedral, and everything around me speaks of spiritual mysteries. The mystery of the Cross, what’s that all about there? The stained glass windows, which bring another atmosphere in. My consciousness has been brought up onto another level altogether, and I am on a different platform. Now, can I hold something from the cathedral consciousness? Certain prayers or meditations are designed to hold your consciousness on that level instead of letting it drop down here all the way.” — Joseph Campbell
“Meditation is silent and unuttered prayer, or, as Plato expressed it, “the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but for good itself — for the universal Supreme Good” of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of which we have all emerged. Therefore, adds Plato, “remain silent in the presence of the divine ones,till they remove the clouds from thy eyes and enable thee to see by the light which issues from themselves, not what appears as good to thee, but what is intrinsically good.” — H.P. Blavatsky
Mars and Venus, of Hellenist Greek/Roman polytheism.
The concept of God is a universal one which is interdependent upon various components; these components are comprised of the representation of the various aspects of the Divine through the different Gods. Each deity represents one centralized characteristic of the Divine, E.G. Athena’s Wisdom and Warfare, Anubis’ emphasis of Funeral Rites and Death, Christ’s power in Compassion and Forgiveness, Shiva’s power of Destruction, et cetera. All of these components are, necessarily, a part of existence, and thus, a part of a universal Divine, without which the Divine would be inherently incomplete. This realization serves as an elaboration upon the constraints of monotheistic religion that demonstrates a logical inability to reconcile one God(E.G. Yahweh in the Old Testament) with other aspects of morality, thus making said singular God inferior. Only a necessarily polytheistic/pantheistic perspective that acknowledges all aspects of morality through the presentation of various Gods can possess a complete, competent perception of the inner workings of the Universe.
Ganesha, the remover of Obstacles, in Hinduism.
Religion, then, is a mere extension of profound science by Man; an instrument of his curiosities of the natural world. Instances of radicalism, extremism or fundamentalism, conversely, distort these exercises of curiosity and celebration into conversion and control. Severe limitations are placed upon the utility of religion when unique perceptions of religious thought are brought in opposition to one another in order to erroneously determine which is illegitimate. Every religion encompasses within itself the perception of the divine according to a unique culture and demographic; therefore, the observation of multiple perspectives of the divine provide a more complete perception of the divine essence of the world. This example is very much akin to the utility of language; irrespective of what language one is speaking based upon cultural context, the essence of the thing remains the same throughout- such is the essence of the divine. One language is not invalidated by the prominent presence of another; rather, they each possess a utility and purpose according to their illustration of the communication of a specified culture or demographic.
Christ, the completion of Judaism and foundation of Christianity.
Polytheism demonstrates a greater ability to approach the objective purpose of religion in this way, as opposed to monotheism, which tends towards a constrained perception of the entirety of God as being embodied within one personification. To insist that these deities function as literal figures, rather than philosophical representations of the divine essence of the universe, essentially undermines the value of religion in the first place.
A legitimately esoteric perception of religion is only possible in the realization that the majority of these religious traditions demonstrate the same function; they are merely differentiated according to a cultural/demographical lens. Without this realization, religion is reduced to a superficial facade of spirituality, literalist fundamentalism, and exotericism. These dogmatic perspectives are arguably a mere parody of religious thought; they fulfill the bare minimum of evolutionary requirement, but do not extend beyond it. Understanding this fundamental truth is a key tenet in properly comprehending the true nature of religious tradition, the self, and its relation to the inner workings of the universe.
“All the old worships indicate the existence of a single Theosophy anterior to them. The key that is to open one must open all; otherwise it cannot be the right key… The religion of the world are branches on the tree whose trunk is the one ancient — once universal — wisdom religion. The religions are the tributaries of one great river.” — H. P. Blavatsky
By: Avialae Horton