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Shadows in Eden Pocket Guides

Did you know that the word ‘heresy’ simply means ‘choice’, or that the Vatican is named after a pagan goddess of the dead? From God to magic, from death to doctrine: never more than a single paragraph long, my Pocket Guides offer brief surveys of these and other subjects. New Guides relevant to subjects covered by the Shadows in Eden blog are added periodically.


A Pocket Guide to Anima Mundi
Anima Mundi means World Soul. It expresses the idea that, in the same way in which the human is believed to have a soul, the planet itself by extension also possesses a soul and is therefore a living being. In this belief all life forms are intimately connected to each other through this soul, and humans therefore are also an integral part of this system. The idea originated with Plato, and has found fresh impetus in our own age through the resurgence of interest in the contemporary ‘Gaia’ concept. Surrounded by the circling heavens, my own image (above) visualizes the concept as a female version of Leonardo's Vitruvian Man. The 17th-century philosopher and mystic Robert Fludd portrayed the Anima Mundi as a female intermediary between the Deity and the world. On her left breast is the crescent moon, and on her right breast the sun pours its life-giving rays upon the earth at her feet: a compelling image which underscores the idea that we its creatures are nourished by this World Soul. The Anima Mundi therefore is seen as the mother of us all, and the term ‘Mother Earth’ becomes an apt reflection of these ideas.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Apologetics
Originally the term apologetics was used to describe the defense and explanation of one’s beliefs to those with other views. But with the establishing of a religion over the centuries, in our own contemporary world the term has shifted, perhaps ironically, to involve a defining of one’s personal moral values in relation to one’s faith, which for Christian Apologists means anything and everything in scripture. But as this includes (along with loving thy neighbor and turning the other cheek) rape, slavery, the massacre of women and children, and even the human sacrifice to God of one’s own daughter, this in turn means that defending such atrocities demands a lowering of one’s own moral values to the level of these heinous acts. Incredibly, this is what apologists do, including the editors of my own King James Study Bible who even find a way to excuse genocide in God’s name. Apologetics: justifying the unjustifiable, defending the indefensible, and claiming the moral high ground for the morally reprehensible.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to the Bible
The book we know as the Bible (the word simply means 'Books') is a disparate collection of texts by authors whose identities are largely unknown to us. These texts describe events which took place often many centuries before the texts themselves were written, mostly between the 4th-century BCE and the 2nd-century CE. The earliest texts contain elements absorbed from polytheistic Canaanite, Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures (the last two being the lands of Hebrew exile, with Canaanite culture being itself the base out of which Hebrew culture grew), and build upon earlier oral traditions. Since that time these texts have been copied and recopied (with scribal errors and variant readings), and translated and re-translated, at times from different versions that conflict with each other, and from languages as culturally diverse as Ancient Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Coptic and Vulgate Latin. They have been altered and amended across diverse cultures and histories (sometimes having different versions in the same language), and edited by hands both known and unknown, but always and inevitably involving widely differing opinions as to what it was right and suitable either to include or to exclude, and often involving the decisions of a single influential individual. The manuscript texts which we do have are copies of copies. No original Biblical texts are known to exist.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Church Doctrine
Some doctrines have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that such doctrines actually appear nowhere in scripture. These doctrines of faith are precepts and guidelines which have been devised either by individuals or by appointed bodies, and are therefore nothing more or less than personal interpretations, independent of scripture. It is for this reason that points of doctrine often have become deeply divisive, and have generated their own rifts between denominations. One of the best-known doctrines is that of the Holy Trinity, first coined by the Christian Apologist Tertullian (who referred to womankind as 'the gateway of the Devil') in the 2nd-3rd-centuries. There is still no agreement between denominations on the exact nature of the Trinity. Man presumes to know the mind of God, these human presumptions become set-in-stone doctrine to be accepted by one group, rejected by another, and the scope for disagreement is seemingly limitless.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Death
Birth and death are the two experiences which bind us all. What happens between these two events is what counts for an individual human life, but that life closes in death. This simple and stark fact focuses our speculation, for not only is death the common human experience: it is a complete unknown. Our minds abhor a vacuum, and speculation and belief rush in to fill the void. According to our faith or lack of it, we believe in an afterlife or not. Apparently our distant ancestors did: provisions for a life beyond death have been found in burials of almost forty thousand years ago. But even to consider that there is nothing (an atheist’s standpoint) is itself a belief, because the truth is that no one anywhere actually knows. If we believe in an existence in some form beyond death, that belief will be coloured by our faith: it is Heaven, it is Hell, it is a place among the stars, it is a paradise filled with virgins (which merely projects trivial earthly desires onto the unknown). The bottom line is: nobody alive knows.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Divine Revelation
Apocrypha are those texts excluded from the approved canonical texts of scripture, and few subjects underscore the nature of Divine Revelation with such starkness as the Apocrypha. It is not the intention of apocryphal writings to do this; these writings simply are as they are. And which canonical texts the apocryphal writings are excluded from depends wholly upon whether the canon is Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, or Reformed Christian, or other denominations, because all of these denominations have their own differing standards as to what actually constitutes an apocryphal text. This in effect means that there are various different versions of the Bible, which in turn means that there actually is no such thing as the Bible. So what is accepted as being Divine Revelation – as being the directly inspired word of God – is not agreed upon. These criteria also apply to the texts regarded by different religions as Divine Revelation. Islam believes that Divine Revelation produced the text of the Qur’an, but this acceptance is only valid within that religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormons, believe that the writings of their accepted prophet Joseph Smith are the result of Divine Revelation, but they are the only ones who do. In short: however divinely inspired a specific text might be regarded somewhere, that same text might be languishing in an apocryphal no-man’s-land somewhere else. So whether a text is or is not divinely inspired is decided, not by God, but by fallible us.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Dress and other Religious Codes
We now know that the dress codes for women as prescribed by Paul in his first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy, 2:9-14) are not actually by Paul at all, but were added under Paul’s name much later by an unknown hand. And that really sums up the problem with religious dress codes: they are the crucial difference between what God thinks we should wear (which we cannot know), and what we think God thinks we should wear. Such dress codes are an example of the way in which we continue to make assumptions on God’s behalf. Think about it for a moment: to make such assumptions is a monstrous conceit, because we are presuming to know the mind of God. God disapproves of gays. God wants your sons and/or your daughters to be circumcised. God wants you to cover your head in a place of worship. God thinks that you should conceal your hair/face/body in public. The list goes on. But such statements say more about us and the ways in which we seek to control others in subtle and in not-so-subtle ways. In a patriarchal society it is patriarchal beliefs which hold sway, and those in power will do what they can to make sure things stay that way. It’s about control. And fear. In a society in which men fear women’s sexual autonomy the clitoris is perceived as a threat that needs to be removed. Maybe you see things differently, but I was always taught that God sees what is in our hearts, not what is on our heads, or what is covering our bodies. And if religious constraints require you to hide your face, then maybe your fellow man is demanding more of you than God is.
©Hawkwood


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A Pocket Guide to Dudeism
As far as I am aware, the Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski is the only motion picture from which a system of belief has arisen. Founded in 2005 by the journalist Oliver Benjamin, the officially titled Church of the Latter-day Dude, known simply as Dudeism, draws its inspiration from Jeff Bridges’ ultra-laid-back character of The Dude from that film. Dudeism draws heavily upon Ancient Chinese Taoist beliefs and philosophy, and its statement that ‘the Dudeness which can be known is not the real Dude’ is typical of its style. For whatever reasons the movement began, it has gone on to project itself as an urban counter-culture that finds its expression in disdain for (or perhaps more correctly: indifference to) all the doctrinal issues which have caused such deep division between denominations in conventional religious expression. As with the Tao, the Dude simply goes with the flow of any situation in which he finds himself, and we also can find his existential attitude mirrored in the practices of Zen. The Dude does not ‘do’. The Dude simply ‘is’. There currently are some 250,000 ordained ministers (including myself) of Dudeism worldwide who (local laws permitting) may officiate at weddings and other civic functions. A church with no doctrine cannot generate doctrinal disagreement, and the appeal of the movement, which is in its turn a phenomenon of the Internet age, speaks of a broad disaffection with conventional religious forms.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Fundamentalism
More of a mindset than an expression of faith, fundamentalism turns itself into a spiritual desert by disposing of all the metaphors, all the symbols and allegories which give scriptural texts their depth and inner richness. In its insistence on a wholly literal reading of such texts, fundamentalism is a narrow one-way street which becomes increasingly difficult to reverse out of once committed to. In order to justify the various claims which they make, fundamentalists will find themselves being forced to expound upon ever more irrational scenarios which degenerate rapidly either into banal idiocies or blind fanaticism, depending on whether those claims are made by Christian fundamentalists or Muslim fundamentalists. It is apparent from their own set agendas that fundamentalists of either of these world religions display a raw intolerance towards any beliefs not their own. To Muslim fundamentalists all non-Muslims are viewed as 'unbelievers'. To Christian fundamentalists all other beliefs are just plain 'wrong'. The creationist claim that T. rex ate coconuts and was on board Noah's Ark is an on-the-record Christian fundamentalist statement (by Kenneth Ham, founder and CEO of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky).
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Gnosticism
Gnosis is a Greek word usually translated simplistically as ‘knowledge’. But gnosis is more than finding out about things. It involves a profound sense of seeing into the heart of the world, an awakening to our true spiritual selves which allows us to glimpse the oneness behind the many forms of our everyday experience. In this sense, gnosis is more akin to the Eastern concept of spiritual enlightenment. Both pre-Christian and Christian Gnosticism was multi-layered, having stories understandable to all who heard them, but with those same stories additionally containing deeper spiritual meanings intended for those who were taught the inner mysteries, or in Jesus’ words: ‘for those with ears to hear’. Gnosticism as a belief and a lifeway flourished around the Mediterranean for centuries until the rising force of Christian orthodoxy branded it as heretical, and successive waves of persecutions erased it from the religious map. Current scholastic opinion now considers it likely that the original form of Christianity was Gnostic, and Gnostic beliefs and values remain embedded in scripture.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to the Gnostic Gospels
The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of thirteen codices (manuscripts bound in book form) of over fifty texts discovered by chance in a buried sealed earthenware jar near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. Together with three other texts known since the 18th- to 20th-centuries and some fragments recovered from other sources, they represent the only known surviving examples of 2nd- to 4th-century Gnostic texts, both Christian and proto-Christian. Virtually all other Gnostic texts were destroyed in the cultural purges carried out at that time by the Church of Rome, although it is possible, even plausible, that some Gnostic texts from that time which have never been evaluated by impartial scholarship are housed under seal either in the Vatican Library or in the Vatican Secret Archives. The original texts are now so fragile that examination of them is made using photographs taken in the 1970’s. All of these texts originally were written either in Coptic or in Greek, and have now been translated into English, with certain gospels also available in other contemporary languages. The texts as a whole supply many of the details missing from canonical texts, and often reveal a depth of spirituality which even suggests an Eastern influence. Whatever their orthodox detractors conclude about these long-suppressed texts, it is a fact that they are notably free of all the murder, mayhem, rape, rough justice and slaughter so in evidence in canonical scripture.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to God
Does God exist? The most intriguing aspect of this ultimate question is that it apparently defies being conclusively answered either way. In spite of their insistence that the burden of proof lies with others, since you cannot not believe in something which cannot be proven (it’s a double negative), atheists are in much the same situation as believers, with both sides of the divide of belief and non-belief perpetuating an eternal polemic. And religion, with all its dogmas, doctrines and internal divisiveness, has in the last several thousand years brought us no nearer to that elusive conclusive answer. All this speculation nevertheless provides us with a shadowy outline of possibilities: an inscrutable state of being which perhaps exists beyond both polemic and religion, and whose very nature eludes understanding by the mere human mind. Our attempts to grasp its form are what produce religion, although its true nature appears to lie beyond our most daring theologies. 
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Heresy
The word heresy simply means ‘choice’, in the sense of one’s personal right to choose one’s own beliefs. But the term has been evolved negatively by those upholding orthodox views to imply beliefs which are false and evil. From the 4th- to the 19th-centuries heresy was criminalized by the Church of Rome and punishable by death, with the Church in effect having the authority to pronounce sentence. Having been incarcerated and often tortured, the condemned were always handed over to the civic authorities for execution: a means of ensuring that official Church records would remain untainted by the grim reality of sentencing. A belief does not become a heresy because it is ‘wrong’, for all beliefs have their own validity. A belief becomes a heresy because someone, somewhere, has decided that it conflicts with what in their opinion is ‘right’. And to make things stick, that person needs to possess the power to enforce their opinion. You then have ‘orthodox’ beliefs on one side, and ‘heretical’ beliefs on the other. The reality is that it is all down to personal opinion.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Infrasound
Just as we have ultraviolet and infrared light beyond the spectrum of light visible to humans, there is also the ultrasound of high-pitched dog whistles, and infrasound at the opposite deep end of the spectrum too low to be audible. Infrasound is strange stuff. The naturally-occurring presence of infrasound in an environment can induce in the human mind a strong sense of being in the company of an unseen (and usually threatening) 'presence' and provoke inexplicable feelings of deep unease - even outright fear. It has been detected deep underground in the stations and tunnels of subways, in the chambers of the Great Pyramid, and at locations which have been described as ‘haunted’ – and it even has been utilized in film soundtracks as a subliminal audio signal deliberately to prompt disquiet in an audience. If you saw it in a theatre, do you remember that feeling of dread when in Jurassic Park the unseen T. rex was approaching in the dark? You were being subjected to infrasound.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to the Inquisition
The Inquisition was not so much a single institution as a series of institutions maintained by the Catholic Church over a span of centuries. The original Inquisition was founded in the 13th-century by Pope Gregory IX and run by the Dominican brotherhood, with the specific task of eradicating the last remaining Christian Cathars in the south of France, whose beliefs were branded by the pope as heresy. Those who were tried were denied legal counsel and were assumed guilty. A ‘confession’ was all that counted, and the accused could be ‘put to the question’ – an Inquisitor’s euphemism for torture – although it is clear enough that such interrogations had less to do with the Church's enquiry into 'the truth' than they did with the frenzied sexual sadism of the Dominican Inquisitors who gloated piously at the sufferings. Even corpses were exhumed and put on trial: a legal ploy which enabled the property of the next of kin to be seized by the Church authorities. The last person to be put to death for heresy by the Inquisition occurred as recently as the 19th-century, but the Inquisition as an institution of the Catholic Church survives even today as the pretentiously-titled Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. During the term of office of Pope John Paul II it was run by Cardinal Ratzinger, who succeeded him as Pope Benedict XVI.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to the King James Version
In January 1604 the newly-crowned King James I held a conference to consider the production of a new standard English edition of the Bible. 47 scholars drawn from the ranks of the Church of England were commissioned to work on the task. In 1611 the first copy was printed, and this version underwent many changes and variations of spelling, diction and phrasing before becoming the edition produced in the mid-19th-century recognizable to us today. The King James Version, now widely known as the KJV, has for many become the standard – and for some the only – version of the Bible in English. Its universal success is due, not so much to its accuracy, but to the style of its language, which manages to be both majestic and intimate. For many, the KJV is taken to be the revealed word of God, I would suggest, simply because that is what it sounds like. Its resoundingly stentorian phrases have produced over 250 idioms which have passed into the language, and its intense poetic prose style lends itself admirably to being recited aloud. All these points in its favour must however be weighed against its being superseded, not only by more accurate translations informed by contemporary scholarship, but by subsequent discoveries, not the least being the Dead Sea scrolls. For all its majesty, the KJV basically remains a 17th-century translation whose magnificent prose outweighs fidelity to the source texts.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Lacunas
Lacunas are any gaps, usually in a manuscript, where the original text is missing or incomplete. A lacuna usually is caused by some sort of damage, usually through the ravages of time, and this damage can itself have a number of causes. The only known manuscript we possess of the Beowulf epic was damaged by fire, and translators must still guess what some lines and names might have been. Usually such guesswork is made on the basis of context: we can make a reasonable assumption as to what is missing by studying the surrounding surviving text. One of the best-known and most contentious lacunas in contemporary studies occurs in the Gospel of Philip. With its lacunas, we read the statement: “The companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. The … her more than … the … disciples, and he kissed her … on her …” From the context, we can infer the first lacunas as being: “The Savior loved her more than all the other disciples, and he kissed her often on her …” The missing word tantalizes us. ‘Mouth’ is the favoured choice among scholars, but this apparently is too shockingly intimate for some, who instead suggest ‘hand’ or ‘cheek’. Coy sensibilities apparently also have their role to play when tackling problematical lacunas.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Martyrdom
Martyrdom in the generally understood sense of the term is taken to mean losing one’s life for the sake of one’s beliefs. This can mean any beliefs, anywhere, at any time in history. Although the word has strong connotations with early Christian martyrs, particularly those executed under the reign of the emperor Nero (above), the four and a half thousand pagans executed in a single afternoon on the orders of the Christian emperor Charlemagne were also martyrs for their faith. Stephen, whose death by stoning at the hands of the Jewish community was witnessed by Paul, is considered to be the first Christian martyr. Whether Jesus himself could be considered a martyr is a debated point, although technically he was executed by the Roman authorities for sedition, which was a political and not a religious offence. For the Romans, crucifixion was a political sentence, but martyrs have met their deaths variously by beheading, by stoning, by being forced to face the wild beasts of the arena, by torture and by being burned at the stake. Regrettably, countless more martyrdoms were suffered either by pagans at the hands of Christians or by Christians of different denominations at the hands of other Christians than ever were executed at the orders of the despotic and deranged Nero.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Orthography
Orthography is the inherent method behind a written language. It is what helps us to make sense of the language in which we write: the nuts and bolts of spelling, punctuation and phrasing. Every language therefore relies upon a basis of sound orthography to be coherent: it provides the underlying structure without which written language would become chaos, and this can even extend to fictitious languages. Orthography therefore also can help us instinctively to ‘feel’ whether even a wholly fictitious language looks as if it can be read, such as this example at left by the designer Ian James. Even though we cannot read what the text appears to say, we nevertheless sense that it could be saying something. The example next to it at right is a partial transcript by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormons. Smith claimed this text to be the language of angels, and the entire credibility of the Mormon faith rests upon its veracity. At a glance we can see that the disconnected script appears to lack any palpable orthography: there seems to be no inherent system which otherwise would tie it together. We must decide for ourselves whether we would take such a claim on trust in spite of this, but whatever we choose to believe, this side-by-side comparison dramatically underscores the importance of orthography when evaluating such claims – the difference here being that, unlike Joseph Smith, Ian James makes no claim for his text to be a bona fidé language.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Pareidolia
Even if you’re not familiar with the term used to describe them, you surely will have encountered them at one time or another. Pareidolia are those figures and faces created by chance in natural formations, which could be anything from Jesus in a tortilla to this mysterious face (above) which is all of eleven miles wide and appears in the Libya Montes region of the planet Mars. Squint at it through half-closed eyes, and the face becomes almost unnervingly real, appearing to stare back at you. What is happening here? This and other such faces which we encounter in tree bark, or in rock formations, or even in a slice of toasted cheese, have no external reality, but are created by our mind’s apparent wish to recognize another ‘us’. Our brains would seem to be hard-wired to seek out such facial recognitions, in the same way in which contemporary cameras look for and register someone who is smiling. Even the most abstract and radically simplified form – the universal ‘smiley face’, which consists of no more than two dots and a simple curve for a mouth – is still readily accepted by our brains as a reassuring smile. And perhaps ‘reassuring’ is the key word here. It is human to seek reassurance, to feel that things ‘have a purpose’ and a meaning – even if that ‘meaning’ is one which our minds have created.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Proselytizing
Proselytism is the practice of attempting to persuade someone to hold the same beliefs which you yourself hold. Usually these are taken to be religious beliefs, and active proselytizing might actually be a requirement of one’s faith, as it is for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons (above), and Jehovah’s Witnesses. How one views the activity is inevitably personal. I would consider attempting this to a known friend as already being a presumption. To go door-to-door and proselytize to total strangers, to seriously imagine that you can make someone you do not even know a better person by getting them to believe what you believe, seems at best an arrogant conceit. At worst it would seem insulting to the beliefs or non-beliefs of others – certainly when you have no clue what those beliefs might be. However sincere the intentions of those who proselytize, wanting to change someone else to be like you is not a form of conversion. It is a form of possession. It demonstrates that you are unable to accept that person as they are, as an individual in their own right and with their own beliefs. Well, I said that how one views proselytizing is personal. You can either agree or disagree with this practice as you choose.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Pseudepigrapha
Pseudepigrapha are texts whose authorship is unknown, but which nevertheless are attributed to a specific person. This includes both apocryphal texts and texts which are not a part of the scriptural canon. But since we cannot with certainty link a text with a confirmed author for almost all of the texts in scripture, this means that, with the exception of particular (but not all) letters of Paul, almost the whole of the Bible also consists of pseudepigraphic writings. This is not to say that deliberate subterfuge was always involved. But when copyright issues and false authorship claims were still things of the distant future, the mindset of those times would not have thought it untoward to write a text and attach the name of some well-known and respected prophet or apostle, perhaps in an attempt to give it an aura of authority or even of authenticity. One example: the only reason that The Gospel According to St. John has that title is because Irenaeus, the editor of the canonical gospels, had a half-remembered boyhood memory that his teacher Polycarp told him that the then-untitled text was written by that disciple. There is no academic substance to the choice of this authorship, and John’s gospel and the other three gospels which were given their titles by Irenaeus are therefore pseudepigraphic texts.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket Guide to Sin
Sin is one of those mechanisms used to control the adherents of a belief: it is part of the ‘transgression and punishment’ mind-game. You commit a sin, God will punish you, in this life or the next. You atone for your sin, you get let off the hook. Usually sin is taken to mean some sort of a transgression against Divine Will. But since all claims to know what Divine Will actually is are devised by us mere mortals, it follows that sin also is a part of this process, and what is forbidden as a sin in one belief might well be entirely acceptable in another. So ‘sin’ is not universally applicable: there is no innate sin. Sin is often confused with personal morality. We might not do something, not because we believe that it is ‘sinful’, but because our own innate sense of moral worth would constrain us. ‘Original sin’ is taken to be specifically the transgression of the Man and the Woman in Eden. Up until the 5th-century this original sin was taken to mean disobedience to God. But Augustine in his writings changed this doctrine forever by re-interpreting original sin specifically to mean sexual desire. Therefore, according to Augustine, taking pleasure in sex was itself a sin, and the idea of shame in the human body and guilt-related sex as 'sinful' lodged itself in the human psyche and has been there ever since.
©Hawkwood

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A Pocket guide to Talismanic Magic
A talisman is generally thought of as being some kind of lucky charm, but a true talisman is something – an object, an image, or even a city – which is believed to contain some essence of the thing which it portrays. So a statue of an Egyptian god was more than a statue because it was believed that the god, or some quintessential part of that god’s being, resided within the statue. And a planned city can be a willful attempt to call down the perfection of the heavens to earth: a striving to recreate the holy city in our own world. Paris and Washington are examples from the contemporary world, Karnak and Akhetaten (Amarna) are two from Egyptian Antiquity. A treasured piece of pottery might be 'killed' by damaging it beyond use before burying it with its deceased owner. A painting of a prey animal on a cave wall might be ritually ‘slaughtered’ to ensure success in the coming hunt. The talismanic image has been slain: the animal is doomed. The power of ideas can make reality irrelevant.
©Hawkwood
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A Pocket Guide to the Vatican
It is perhaps an uncomfortable truth for some, but it is nevertheless a fact of history that the Vatican, the hub of the Catholic world, is named after a pagan goddess – and not just any goddess, but the powerful Etruscan goddess Vatica, the dark goddess of the dead. St. Peter’s Basilica is built on top of the former necropolis ruled over by the goddess. Its foundations rest upon these ancient corpses, both literally and metaphorically. Another uncomfortable truth is the means that were employed to finance the building of the basilica. It was built using the proceeds from indulgences: the morally dubious practice of the buying-off of one’s earthly sins by making payments to members of the Church hierarchy. Vatican City is a small independent state which curiously has the highest per head crime rate in all of Europe. Although it uses the euro currency, it is not a member of the European Union, and is therefore not bound by the rules of the Union: a convenience which perhaps allows it to circumvent the strict EU gender equality laws. Vatican ruling ensures that the glass ceiling for women in its hierarchy is already reached at the lowly level of a mother superior of a local convent.
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A Pocket Guide to the Vatican Secret Archives
One of the most expansive collections in the world, the Vatican Library houses many thousands of unique manuscripts in addition to over one million published books. Up until the beginning of the 17th-century the entire collection was housed in a single institution, at which time some 150,000 items were removed to a separate institution now known as the Vatican Secret Archives (above). During the Napoleonic Wars the entire contents of the Archives were plundered and transferred by mule to Paris. After hostilities ceased, the bishop sent to oversee their safe return apparently despaired of his task, to the point where he simply distributed boxes of irreplaceable manuscripts to local merchants for use as wrapping paper. Other boxes were dumped in the Seine. What now remains of the Archives, which still is substantial, has become a hotbed of speculation for conspiracy theorists everywhere. This is understandable given the lack of transparency by Vatican officials, and the extremely limited access allowed. Speculation abhors a vacuum, and when considering historical events it is actually entirely plausible that the Library and/or the Archives contain material under seal which might include texts that potentially would undermine Papal authority. This has reasonably been speculated to include Gnostic scriptures which otherwise would resolve the lacunas in the texts of the Nag Hammadi find. The question has to be asked: if the Papacy has nothing to hide, why prevent this material from being evaluated by impartial scholarship?
©Hawkwood

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